A mock signing of new legislation in Rhode Island took place recently that will provide a registry for home care providers in the state. On the surface, this legislation may appear to be a great resource and benefit for elderly and disabled adults throughout the state who require in home care support, but opponents to the legislation have marked it another union supporting tool.
Unions have been at the grassroots level of promoting membership among in home care providers throughout numerous states, mainly focusing their efforts on independent caregivers who are receiving reimbursement through the states’ Medicaid system. These are often family caregivers, but they can also be independent providers hired directly by seniors or their family.
However, despite this new legislation that aims to provide independent caregivers a new resource against agency-hired in home care aides, a new rule passed down by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will make it more difficult to collect union dues.
The Providence Journal reported in its news article, Governor, unions mark law for new home health-care registry, written by Katherine Gregg:
“[Emmanuel] Falck [political director in Rhode Island for 1199 SIEU] said the union is still talking with state officials about a number of issues, including the potential effects of a new rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that bans the deduction of union dues from the checks sent to state-subsidized home health-care workers.
“The law provides that Medicaid providers must be paid directly and cannot have part of their payments diverted to third parties outside of a few very specific exceptions,” Tim Hill, acting director for the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services, said in a statement earlier this month. “This proposed rule is intended to ensure that providers receive their complete payment.””
Politicians in the state and union reps appear now to be working on a solution that could circumvent the CMS regulations and allow the SEIU to collect membership fees from these in home care workers. While some union reps and supporters claim membership will increase wages, benefits, and quality of work for these individuals, opponents believe it’s one more in a long list of efforts by the SEIU to increase its coffers and take more money for itself rather than to support the lower paid workers.
The new legislation is not set to go into effect until October 2019, so there will likely be more public discussion and fight ahead before this will have any direct impact for those who need in home care support.