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Kentucky Coping With Black Lung Backlog

Kentucky has a backlog of more than 1,000 coal miners who have filed workers compensation claims because of black lung disease.

Department of Workers' Claims Commissioner Dwight Lovan told lawmakers Thursday that as more coal miners lose their jobs more of them are filing black lung claims. The department has had more than 300 claims filed so far this year, and none of them have been processed.

A 2010 Kentucky Supreme Court ruling resulted in the cases being evaluated by a doctor at the University of Louisville or the University of Kentucky. But Lovan said the increase in claims has caused delays. Lovan said he hopes to contract with two private health clinics to speed up the evaluation process.

Lovan said the department could have 500 new claims this year.