A health-care fund for retired coal miners has become a political bargaining chip. Maintained in part by federal money, the 70-year-old fund is now nearly empty. Congress has until the end of April to come up with a fix, or 22,000 retirees could lose their coverage.
While not a source of conflict in previous years, the looming deadline has divided lawmakers. Should Congress fail to come up with a solution, it will be members of Trump’s core constituency that feel the brunt — people like retired coal miner Alfred Price.
One would never guess that Price, who lives with his wife in West Virginia, had been put on medication for fits of aggression. He is tall and soft-spoken, except when gushing about his six grandchildren.
Price worked for Peabody Energy and its spinoff company, Patriot Coal, in West Virginia for nearly 30 years. When those companies went bankrupt, they cut pensions and health benefits for retirees. Now, Price is at risk of losing the insurance he was promised would last the rest of his life.
In addition to the uncontrollable mood swings he experienced before going on medication, Price’s memory is so compromised that he can’t reca... Read more