Sunday, October 4, 2015

Johns Hopkins Medicine Terminates Compromised Black Lung Program/Brady Campaign Statement on Umpqua Community College Shooting

Published on Portside (

Johns Hopkins Medicine Terminates Compromised Black Lung Program

October 3, 2015

Jamie Smith Hopkins

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Center for Public Integrity

Johns Hopkins Medicine said Wednesday that it has discontinued its black lung program, the subject of a Center for Public Integrity-ABC News investigation that showed how coal companies routinely beat back sick coal miners’ disability claims with help from doctors [1] at the nationally recognized hospital.

Johns Hopkins initially suspended the program [2], a move that came two days after the 2013 series ran.

“The program has been suspended since November 1, 2013 and, following a thorough review, will not be resumed,” Jania Matthews, a Johns Hopkins Medicine spokeswoman, said in an emailed response to a Center query.

It’s unclear when or why the decision to end the program was made. Matthews did not respond Wednesday to a request for more details.

Miners diagnosed with black lung — an incurable and potentially fatal disease [3] triggered by breathing coal dust — can apply for benefits and medical care through a federal program. But the coal companies liable for those payments, aided by doctors [1] and lawyers [4], have pushed back to get claims denied, the Center and ABC News found.

The series, “Breathless and Burdened,” which won a Pulitzer Prize [5] for investigative reporting, prompted policy changes [6] by the U.S. Department of Labor [7] and a pending proposal [8] from members of Congress for what they called “sweeping reforms” of the benefits program.

Dr. Paul Wheeler, who headed the Johns Hopkins unit, has retired, Matthews said. Wheeler did not find a single case of severe black lung in the more than 1,500 cases decided since 2000 in which he offered an opinion, a review by the Center and ABC News found. Such a  finding would automatically qualify a miner for benefits.

Last year, the Department of Labor told approximately 1,100 coal miners [6] that their black lung benefit claims may have been wrongly denied as a result of Wheeler’s readings of their X rays.

Jamie Smith Hopkins is a reporter for the Center for Public Integrity.



For Immediate Release

Thursday, October 1, 2015 - 4:30pm

Brady Campaign Statement on Umpqua Community College Shooting

WASHINGTON - Of the recent mass shooting at Oregon's Umpqua Community College, Dan Gross, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said:

"We join the rest of the nation in shock, horror, and grief as the news of today’s school shooting in Oregon continues to unfold. What should have been a sanctuary for education and a symbol of bright futures will now become the latest memorial of victims lost to America’s gun violence epidemic.

"While investigators continue their work to understand what would drive someone to commit such a crime, we will also be eager to learn more about how and where the shooter obtained the gun or guns. Our hearts are with the families, friends, and community members of all those who were killed or injured in this tragedy."


The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and its legislative and grassroots affiliate, the Brady Campaign and its dedicated network of Million Mom March Chapters, is the nation's largest, non-partisan, grassroots organization leading the fight to prevent gun violence.

We are devoted to creating an America free from gun violence, where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, and in our communities.

Organization Links

Donations can be sent Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

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