Members of West Virginia’s congressional delegation have joined Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin in questioning a sharp drop in federal funding for the state’s black lung clinics.
State officials say grants for the federal Black Lung Clinic program were recently capped without notice at $900,000 per state. West Virginia had been the only state to receive more than that annually. The state received $1.4 million last year.
Tomblin wrote this week to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about the change that he says will jeopardize services for nearly 8,500 West Virginians. U.S. Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin and Congressman Nick Rahall also voiced their support for restoring the funding.
Black lung disease, or pneumoconiosis, is caused by inhaling coal dust. West Virginia has eight black lung clinics.