ABC News Black Lung Investigation Prompts Change

Hospital unit, under review, told coal miners sickness not caused by years underground.
3:00 | 11/04/13

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Transcript for ABC News Black Lung Investigation Prompts Change
And now here abc gets action on a story we first brought you last week, workers who embodied the american spirit, coal miners who have labored hard their entire lives have been fighting for benefits. Abc's chief investigative correspondent brian ross broke this story. Tonight he tells us what happened next. Brian here with the latest. Brian? Reporter: Good evening, diane. There may be new hope tonight for hundreds of american coal miners in the wake of our investigation with the center for public integrity into why so many were denied black lung benefits despite evidence they had the deadly severe form of that disease. Steve day's doctors diagnosed him with black lung. My doctor says my lungs are shot. Reporter: Doctors at johns hopkins hospital rejected the diagnosis and we found that of hundreds of other miners, saving the companies millions of dollars. The head of the black lung unit at hopkins, dr. Paul wheeler, did not find a single case of severe black lung in available cases we examined since the year 2000, not one. That's my opinion and I have a perfect right to my opinion. Reporter: But we found his opinion has been wrong a lot. Gary fox was denied black lung benefits for ten years after dr. Wheeler read his x-ray as negative. It was only after fox's death at the age of 58 that an autopsy concluded he did indeed have black lung. You have a system that for so many miners is rigged against them. Reporter: Hopkins has announced it is spending the black lung program while it reviews the findings of our investigation. I'd like to see the truth come out. I'd like to see the wrong doers in this system exposed. Reporter: Steve day and his wife say they are now hopeful that maybe somebody does care. God help the souls of those who cheat these men. Reporter: Senator casey says the miners have been denied basic justice and based on our report there now needs to be accountability from everyone involved in this system. Brian ross staying on the case tonight. Thank you, brian.

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