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COAL MINER HEALTH CARE LAW ON WAY TO WHITE HOUSE; SENATE VOTE OKAYS ENERGY BILL

 COAL MINER HEALTH CARE LAW ON WAY TO WHITE HOUSE;
 SENATE VOTE OKAYS ENERGY BILL
 WASHINGTON, Oct. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- The health benefits of more than 200,000 retired coal miners and widows were guaranteed today as the U.S. Senate voted to approve the national energy bill.
 The legislation, which addresses a wide range of energy-related policies, includes an amendment allowing the refinancing of the ailing UMWA Health and Retirement Funds. The funds, an employer-paid medical benefits program serving retired coal miners and widows since 1946, had been crippled by record deficits.
 Richard Trumka, president of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), said that the Senate's action today "represents an historic victory for coal field families."
 "By passing this legislation, the U.S. Congress is saying that this nation will honor its covenant with America's coal mining families. This is a great day to be a UMWA member and a great day to be an American," Trumka said.
 The UMWA has waged a non-stop campaign for three years to protect retired coal miner health benefits. Trumka had warned that failure to resolve the issue would likely result in "chaos in the coal fields."
 Under the terms of an agreement reached this summer between Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and White House officials, the legislation approved by the Senate today includes a provision guaranteeing the continuation of health care benefits by requiring companies who had once paid into the benefit program to contribute once again. The provision also allows a portion of the revenues generated under the federal Abandoned Mine Lands Reclamation Act be used to help the health care funds. Surplus pension fund assets can also be applied to easing the health program's deficit.
 "Thanks to Jay Rockefeller's leadership, retired coal miners and coal mining wives and widows all across this country are going to live longer, healthier lives," Trumka said, adding, "You can only speculate how much better America would be if everyone in Washington showed the same courage and compassion Jay Rockefeller did throughout this long and difficult struggle."
 President Bush has indicated that he will sign the legislation.
 -0- 10/8/92
 /CONTACT: Jim Grossfeld of the United Mine Workers of America, 202-842-7240/ CO: United Mine Workers of America ST: District of Columbia IN: MNG HEA SU: LEG


MH -- DC024 -- 7889 10/08/92 13:07 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 8, 1992
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