Kentucky lawmakers announce bipartisan bill to let radiologists diagnose black lung cases again

State Reps. Angie Hatton and Robert Goforth have pre-filed legislation to roll back portions of Kentucky’s House Bill 2, which barred federally certified radiologists from reading x-rays in black lung compensation cases. The legislation, which became law in March 2018, left only pulmonologists to assess such cases, greatly reducing the number of physicians available to help workers receive compensation.

“At a time when we’re seeing a spike in black lung, especially in Eastern Kentucky, many legislators unfortunately decided to make it much tougher for miners in these cases to qualify for the workers’ comp benefits they deserve,” Hatton, a Democrat, said in a prepared statement from the Kentucky House of Representatives. “I’m proud to reach across the aisle and work with Robert as we try to remove this punitive measure. I’ve seen first-hand what these miners have to live with; they need our help.”

“Black lung is one of the most horrific diseases that individuals can contract through occupational safety hazards,” Goforth, a Republican, said in the same statement. “We owe it to our heroic coal miners and all of Kentucky’s workers to right the wrongs that happened as a result of House Bill 2, which I voted against. If we are committed to doing the right thing, we will fix this and correct this in a bipartisan fashion.”

This new legislation will be considered by the Kentucky House of Representatives in January, according to the statement.