UPDATE: Grimes to Talk Mine Safety in Eastern Kentucky

By Associated Press | 

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell is committed to the repeal of the federal Affordable Care Act -- even though it includes provisions to help coal miners receive benefits for black lung disease.

Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes criticized McConnell's position during a campaign swing through eastern Kentucky on Thursday. Grimes is trying to unseat McConnell in November.

Black lung is the common name for a disease caused by inhaling coal dust. State officials say more Kentucky miners are filing claims because more of them are out of work. Eastern Kentucky has lost 7,000 direct coal mining jobs since 2012.

McConnell has said he wants to replace the Affordable Care Act with "real reforms." A McConnell spokeswoman dismissed Grimes' criticism as trying to deceive Kentucky voters into believing she is pro-coal.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes will talk about coal mine safety and fighting black lung disease during a campaign stop at the site of the 1970 Hurricane Creek mining disaster Thursday morning.

Grimes' campaign told The Associated Press she will vow to support two pieces of coal mining legislation, both written by West Virginia Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller. The first bill would increase criminal penalties for mine safety violations and do more to protect people who report those violations. The second would make it easier for miners to apply for and receive benefits related to black lung disease.

Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell has criticized Grimes for accepting donations from anti-coal groups and not mentioning coal when she appeared at a fundraiser with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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