U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson wants answers about what many see as a $200 million, taxpayer-funded scam designed to fatten big labor’s wallet.
In a letter this week to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Oshkosh Republican is demanding information about the practice of government employee unions “skimming” federal dollars from Medicaid beneficiaries before the payments reach the intended recipients.
Many of those being skimmed are home health care workers, classified by some states as “government workers” despite a U.S. Supreme Court decision that union dues cannot be collected without the recipients’ consent.
“In 2016, American taxpayers spent $565.5 billion on the Medicaid program,” Johnson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, wrote in the letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma.
“Although this funding is intended to help low-income families and the disabled, eleven states allow unions to classify personal home health care workers—including family caregivers—as government employees for the purposes of collecting union dues,” Johnson added. “This classification allows states to skim an estimated $200 million each year in union dues—taxpayer money that would otherwise go to the care of Medicaid recipients.”
Johnson’s committee is looking into the rising costs of Medicaid programs.
In his letter, the senator notes that federal Medicaid law prohibits payments for care to any entity other than the individual providing the care.
“In addition, in 2014, the Supreme Court held that states may not collect union dues from home health care providers without their consent,” Johnson wrote, referring to the court’s Harris v. Quinn ruling, which established “partial-public employees” could not be forced to pay union dues against their will. “Even so, some home health care workers say that unions have been skimming dues without their consent.”
In January, Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-Wash.) announced plans to introduce a bill that would end the siphoning of tax dollars to unions.
Unions such as SEIU and AFSCME in Washington and 10 other states successfully pushed changes to laws, designating home care aides as public employees. The classification brought the workers – whether they wanted to or not – into the union fold. States then began withholding union dues from the workers’ paychecks.
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