Kentucky is at the center of what experts are calling the worst black lung epidemic on record. But instead of making it easier for miners to get access to health care, Kentucky’s lawmakers passed a law that may soon hinder miners’ ability to obtain workers’ compensation benefits.
The new law, which goes into effect on July 14th, bars federally certified radiologists from assessing coal miners’ X-rays in state black lung workers’ compensation claims. Instead, the state will require that only pulmonologists, physicians whose focus is lung disease, be allowed to judge X-rays for benefit claims. Right now, there are only 11 doctors in Kentucky who are certified to examine X-rays for state benefits claims, and the new law will cut that number down to five.
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