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James Bounds is a West Virginia miner with black lung disease; it took him 4 1/2 years to get compensation benefits. A provision in Obamacare later made qualifying for those benefits much easier. Kara Lofton/West Virginia Public Broadcasting hide caption

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Kara Lofton/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Obamacare Repeal Threatens A Health Benefit Popular In Coal Country

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The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health sent a mobile testing unit to a fire station in Wharton, W.Va., in 2012 to screen coal miners for black lung disease. Howard Berkes/NPR hide caption

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Howard Berkes/NPR

Branham wears reflective mining pants in his home in Elkhorn City, Ky. Branham has advanced stage black lung and was forced to quit mining earlier this year. Benny Becker/Ohio Valley ReSource hide caption

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Benny Becker/Ohio Valley ReSource

Advanced Black Lung Cases Surge In Appalachia

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A worker in Claysville, Pa., shovels the fine powder that's part of a watery mixture used in hydraulic fracturing. Silica dust is created in a wide variety of construction and manufacturing industries, too. Keith Srakocic/AP hide caption

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Keith Srakocic/AP

Tighter, Controversial Silica Rules Aimed At Saving Workers' Lungs

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A memorial at the entrance to Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch coal mine represents the 29 coal miners who were killed in an explosion in 2010. Jeff Gentner/AP hide caption

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Jeff Gentner/AP

Coal miner Lee Hipshire in 1976, shortly after emerging from a mine in Logan County, W.Va., at the end of his shift. A few years later, Lee took early retirement because of pneumoconiosis, or black lung disease. He died at 57. Courtesy of Earl Dotter hide caption

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Courtesy of Earl Dotter