HAZARD — Recently, members of the Letcher Governance Project (LGP) and the Black Lung Association (BLA) traveled to Congressman Hal Rogers’ office in Hazard to request Rogers host a town hall meeting.
Andrea Begley, Rogers’ field representative, met with 15 individuals from both LGP and BLA on March 27. Both groups had different issues they wanted to address, but the main focus of the meeting was to discuss if Rogers would host a town hall meeting.
Rogers’ Communications Director, Danielle Smoot, said Rogers is currently heavily booked. Smoot, however, said Rogers may be able to host a town hall meeting in the future.
“It would be nice to have a town hall meeting,” said Black Lung Association President Richard Yonts.
Yonts said he, along with eight other members of BLA, went to the meeting to address some of the proposed changes to the Affordable Health Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare. He said some of the proposed changes made it seem like black lung would no longer be covered.
Last month, Republicans in Congress abandoned Obamacare’s replacement bill, The American Health Care Act. It was as known as Trumpcare.
Though Yonts does not believe in repealing and replacing Obamacare, he did say Obamacare had certain areas that needed to be fixed.
“The rising premiums are making Obamacare unaffordable for some people,” said Yonts.
Yonts said he felt like his concerns were met during the meeting with Begley, “She was very nice and attentive. She took down notes to give to Hal.”
Begley also gave Yonts the contact information for Rogers’ Prestonsburg office, which specializes in helping miners get their black lung benefits. Yonts would go to the Prestonsburg’s office to discuss some of the issues miners are facing with their black lung benefits.
In addition to helping miners with black lung services, Rogers’ offices also help constituents with a number of other services.
“Rogers helps thousands of constituents by helping them get access to their social security, disability,medicare, and helping veterans with the VA” said Smoot.
Yonts received a letter from Rogers shortly after the meeting in Hazard. He said Rogers was appreciative of him and BLA for stopping by his office.
Tanya Turner, with the Letcher Governance Project, went to the meeting to discuss her concerns over the prison being built in Letcher County, “There has been a lot of misunderstanding and uncertainty about this prison.”
Turner also discussed fears surrounding charter schools and public schools being underfunded.
“There is just a lot to talk about,” said Turner.
Smoot said while Rogers may be too busy for a town hall meeting at this time, groups or organizations can still set up appointments with him at any of his Hazard, Prestonsburg, Somerset, or Washington, D.C. offices.
For more information on Rogers and where he stands on issues, visit https://halrogers.house.gov. Smoot said constituents can email Rogers on the website with any concerns or issues they have.
Rogers’ Hazard office can be contacted at 606-439-0794, his Prestonsburg office at 606-886-0844, his Somerset office at 1-800-632-8588, and his Washington, D.C. office at 202-225-4601.
TJ Caudill is a reporter with The Hazard Herald. He can be reached at 606-629-3245.