Labor officials vow to fix black lung benefits program

Federal labor officials told lawmakers that they are notifying dozens of coal workers to re-apply for black lung benefits after their claims were initially denied.

Officials have sent letters and telephoned 83 miners over the past few weeks to remedy the situation caused in part be medical reviews from a controversial Johns Hopkins physician, ABC news reports.

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"Let me reassure you, the Department of Labor is committed to improving the effectiveness of these programs,” said Chris Lu, Deputy Secretary of Labor, at a Senate hearing Tuesday, called to look at reforms to the government’s black lung benefit program.

Officials said they are starting to address a severe backlog of open black lung cases by funneling more than $2.7 million into the program's budget. The Labor Department believes there are likely more than 14,000 unresolved cases.