'Are there no prisons?' asked Scrooge.So does an employer have any obligation to the widows of employees that are killed on the job? Apparently not. Widows of miners killed at the Darby and Cloverlick mines in Harlan County Kentucky are somewhat upset that not only were their husbands killed on the job, but the coal companies are now cutting off their health care.
'Plenty of prisons,' said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.
'And the Union workhouses.' demanded Scrooge. 'Are they still in operation?'
'They are. Still,' returned the gentleman,' I wish I could say they were not.'
'The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?' said Scrooge.
'Both very busy, sir.'
'Oh. I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,' said Scrooge. 'I'm very glad to hear it'
'Many can't go there; and many would rather die.'
'If they would rather die,' said Scrooge, 'they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.
Actually, they're allowed to continue their health care under COBRA, which requires most employers with group health plans to offer employees the option of continuing their coverage, but that's expensive for mine widows like Melissa Lee whose husband was killed in the Darby mine explosion, she and the other widows are asking Ralph Napier, the owner of the Darby mine and Orion Resources Inc., to pay the COBRA for the next 18 months until they can get their feet back on the ground.
Lee said she has had no luck contacting Napier.Considering that their husbands, the fathers of their childrend are dead because laws were broken and regulations were ignored, it seems that paying for their health care for a few more months is the least they can do.
“I have been trying and trying and trying for three straight weeks ... for 21 days I have called him (Napier),” said Lee, who has four sons. “Here it is almost a month later, but there's no response. So, what do we do?”
Lee said she is weighing her options, but has few considering she is raising a 2- and 3-year-old along with her 12- and 14-year-olds. Working full time would be difficult, she said, because day care for two is too expensive. The extra 18 months would help her “get established” because, by then, the boys would be enrolled in kindergarten and preschool.
The coal mining industry, she said, can do “so much better.”
“If there was a law passed where you have to keep the health insurance coverage on deceased miners' children ... I think that ought to be automatic,” she said.