The Campaign Spot

The Obama Administration vs. the Home Health-Services Industry, Part Two

From the final Morning Jolt of the week:

The Obama Administration vs. Home Health Services

Sean Higgins of the Washington Examiner wrote in with a thought or two on why, as detailed in yesterday’s Jolt, Kathleen Sebelius’s Health and Human Services Department is slashing Medicare’s payments for home health-care services.

“The Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees — both big Obama backers — have been trying to organize these home health care workers, mostly by leaning on states to declare people who receive the subsidies state employees,” Higgins writes. “The states then hand over the workers’ contact info to unions. That is the basis of the current Supreme Court case, Harris v. Quinn: whether these workers ‘really’ are state employees. . . . A problem the unions have run into is that the rates are set by the feds so there is little to bargain with the states for — and therefore little reason for the healthcare workers to join a union. It is hard to get somebody to sign a union card if they don’t think the union can actually do anything for them.”

Back in January, covering the legal fight, Higgins wrote:

In 2003, then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich declared that home workers for the physically disabled were now state employees. Anyone who does this work now has to join the Service Employees International Union, or at least pay it monthly fees.

I wanted to ask Blagojevich about this decision but was prevented by the fact that he is currently serving a 14-year sentence in federal prison on 17 counts of corruption related to his duties as governor.

In 2009, current Gov. Pat Quinn declared home workers for the mentally disabled were also state workers.

Tellingly, both declarations stated that they were not public employees for the purposes of state pensions, health benefits or protection from civil liability. Just unionization.

A puzzle piece falls into place, in some way; here’s a group of workers that is paid for through Medicare, resisting membership in the big public-sector unions. If they won’t get with the program, they’ve got to be punished. As Obama said early in 2009, “Don’t think we’re not keeping score, brother.”


The Latest