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10/13/2004

Additional bill introduced to help the Horizon Natural Resources Retirees

Editor's note: This is not HR 3796, it is an additional bill in hopes of helping save the coal miners benefit funds.

COSTELLO, SHIMKUS INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO COVER MINER HEALTH COSTS
Washington - U.S. Congressmen Jerry Costello (D-IL) and John Shimkus (R-IL) announced today that they introduced legislation to provide funding to cover the health care costs of coal miners and retirees. The bill will cover the 5,000 Horizon Mine workers and retirees impacted by the company's bankruptcy.
“With the introduction of this bill, we are seeking to insure that the miners that invested so much of their lives into these companies are not left without health insurance,” said Costello. “This is about doing the right thing, and I am hopeful that we can enact the necessary changes to keep providing these benefits.”

"Congress needs to address this problem before coal miners lose their health benefits. We have to live up to the commitment we made to our nation's miners. This legislation is part of the solution, but Congress still needs a long term solution for our miners, to insure they have adequate health care benefits for the future," stated Shimkus.

Three separate funds - the Combined Benefit Fund (CBF), the 1992 Benefit Fund ('92 Fund) and the 1993 Benefit Fund ('93 Fund) – were established by the Coal Act of 1992 and a later agreement to cover these costs. Coal companies pay into the funds, but due to the fact that fewer companies remain in business and interest on the funds has declined, adjustments are needed to keep the Funds, particularly the '93 Fund, solvent.

The bill would enact three changes:
Change the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Trust Fund investment policy to include a mandated investment return sufficient to cover the CBF and '92 Fund costs.

Extend AML funding to cover all “orphan” beneficiaries (those miners who worked for a company that has gone bankrupt), including the '93 Fund.

Allows the use of stranded interest that is currently available in the AML and the Rural Abandoned Mine Program funds to be used.

### ATTENTION###

Resist Oppression Update to the Story:

At least there is back up legislation if our Keep the Promise to the Coal Miners campaign tp pass HR 3796 gets defeated or log-jammed on the floor of the U.S. Congress.
Still the fight for the passage of HR 3796 must continue and we urge eveyone to go to our Keep the Promise to the Coal Miners website and sign our online petition to Congress.

The fight isn't over, we at least now have back up legislation. Support the passage of both bills. Soon we will be updating the Keep the Promise to the Coal Miners website for users to support the Cosetello and Shimkus legislation in addition to HR 3796

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