The government's Black Lung Disability Trust Fund is "beset by billions of dollars in debt," and the shortfall could result in miners losing their benefits, according to the June 4 article. CNN said that some 14,000 miners rely on the program to pay medical bills when they are too sick to work.
The fund is supposed to be paid for by a tax on coal companies, but there has never been enough money throughout the fund's 40-year history, and the remainder has to be paid for by taxpayers. The fund borrowed $1.3 billion from the U.S. Department of the Treasury last year, the article noted.
What's more, a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that by 2050, the fund may need to borrow as much as $15 billion to remain solvent. The GAO said there are several possible solutions to the deficit, including increasing the tax on coal companies or forgiving debt owed to taxpayers.
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