December 27, 2016

It is going to be harder for Donald Trump and our Republican overlords in Congress to repeal Obamacare than they think. It turns out lots of people rely upon it for their health care, and they don't want it to go away.

Including lots of Trump voters, like the coal miners who voted for him in droves because they heard him say he'd bring back their jobs, but missed the part where he said he'd repeal Obamacare.

Here's the problem. Black lung claims were part of the Affordable Care Act, thanks to deceased Robert Byrd. Under the ACA, the burden of proof for black lung claims shifted from the miners to the mine owners. Consequently, many more miners have qualified for disability benefits and health care related to black lung disease, according to Business Insider.

Now, however, many in coal country may have reason to worry. Trump and House and Senate GOP leaders have vowed to make the repeal of Obamacare one of their first acts in January. If the Republicans carry through, Byrd’s black lung provision would likely be washed away along with the provisions for subsidized health insurance plans and expanded Medicaid for low-income Americans.

Greg Sargent argues that they truly believe Trump won't take away their benefits.

No. I’m going to argue that, while Trump did repeatedly vow repeal, these voters were absolutely right to conclude that he would not leave them without the sort of federal protections they enjoy under Obamacare. That’s because Trump did, in fact, clearly signal to them that this would not happen.

It's easy to mock these voters. We shouldn't. They heard what they wanted to hear, and are now experiencing anxiety and buyers' remorse.

The widow of a deceased miner, who is now trying to get the benefits, said she doesn’t want to see Obamacare repealed, and even suggested Trump may be on the verge of betraying her and others in the region:

“If he don’t come across like he promised, he’s not gonna be there next time. Not if I can help it.”

He made a promise he really can't keep, given that Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell control the legislation that gets to his desk. It's clear from the recent battle over the continuing resolution that Republicans have no intention of protecting coal miners from anything, or ensuring they receive health care after working under unsafe conditions for so many years. These miners, like so many other Americans, will be victims of Trump and Republicans.

We need to stand up for them, too.

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