by Tim Pearce
Eight blue states skimmed nearly $150 million from Medicaid payments to caregivers in 2017 to cover the workers’ agency fees and dues to labor unions, according to the free-market think tank The Freedom Foundation.
California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington deducted the money from healthcare workers’ paychecks for overseeing the elderly and disabled. In many cases, the workers were forced to pay dues to unions without the workers’ approval.
A 2014 Supreme Court decision in Harris v. Quinn ruled the state practice of skimming wages from Medicare workers without approval unconstitutional, but states and unions have worked together to pass new laws and processes to keep the practice going, The Washington Free Beacon reports.
“You have the state working with the union to enable the coercive practices,” Freedom Foundation director of labor policy Maxford Nelsen told The Washington Free Beacon. “There’s a lot of collusion going on between state officials and unions.”
The Trump administration’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services acted on July 10 to close loopholes and end the practice by announcing a proposed rule that all Medicaid go directly to healthcare workers. The rule would overturn a 2014 rule by the Obama administration that allowed third parties to take a share of the paycheck before the worker.
“The proposed rule targets these home care workers and is designed to stop them from contributing their own wages to support their union in the same way that teachers, police and firefighters do,” the Service Employees International Union, one of the largest public-sector unions in the U.S., said in a statement on the proposed rule. “This proposal is a transparent attempt to interfere with workers’ freedom to choose to join together in a union and advocate for higher wages, better training, and basic benefits like affordable healthcare and paid sick time that are crucial to ensure quality home care for our parents, grandparents and children.”
Unions have netted about $1.4 billion from Medicaid payments to healthcare providers since 2000, according to the Freedom Foundation.
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