Cuts in federal black lung funding have resulted in Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation closing it Wellness Center in Whitesburg, effective August 29.
MCHC President and CEO L.M. “Mike” Caudill said the cuts are the result of the non-profit clinic losing $133,000 in federal funds.
Because the Wellness Center, which has been free to patrons, was funded through the black lung program, Caudill said it would have to be closed in order for MCHC to continue providing the “direct medical services” needed by the area’s retired coal miners who suffer from black lung disease.
“We were completely taken by surprise,” Caudill said of the funding cuts, adding that U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers and U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell are still trying to determine why the cuts were made to a clinic that serves so many in the heart of Appalachia’s coal country.