Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin sent a letter Wednesday to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asking her to reconsider funding for black lung treatment.
“The recent change within the structure of the federal Black Lung Clinic program will jeopardize our ability to provide nearly 8,500 West Virginians suffering from Black Lung disease with the critical care and services they need,” Tomblin said in a written statement about the letter.
State officials say that, without notice, grants were cut and capped at $900,000 for each state. That will result in a drop in funding of more than $500,000 to West Virginia’s state-run clinics.
“I am asking Secretary Sebelius to reconsider and request removal of the capped restrictions for grant applications or allow for supplemental request to maintain the standards of care and service in our black lung clinics,” Tomblin said.
Last year, West Virginia received $1.4 million in black lung federal funds. More than 52,000 visits to the eight clinics across the state were documented last year.