This week, the Freedom Foundation submitted formal comments to the federal Center for Medicaid Services (CMS) supporting the repeal of an illegal Obama-era regulation that has permitted states and unions to skim hundreds of millions of dollars in union dues and political contributions from payments to home caregivers serving clients eligible for Medicaid.
CMS announced its intention to rescind the regulation in July, starting the clock on a 30-day public comment period that ended Monday.
The Freedom Foundation has called on CMS to take such action since last year. If repealed, states would lose the legal authority to collect union dues from caregivers’ paychecks, though individual caregivers could of course still choose to make their own arrangements to pay dues after they receive full and direct payment for their services.
In a recent comprehensive report, the Freedom Foundation documented the history of the unionization of Medicaid-paid home caregivers, estimating that states diverted nearly $150 million in union dues from the Medicaid payments of almost 360,000 caregivers in 2017 alone.
The Freedom Foundation comment submitted to CMS directed officials to the report and responded to the various objections that had been raised by unions and their allies seeking to preserve the illegal cash-flow.
Additionally, the Freedom Foundation’s Oregon office submitted a comment focusing specifically on the history of the unionization of Medicaid-paid home care workers in Oregon.
Due to Freedom Foundation outreach, at least 91 caregivers from Washington, Oregon and California submitted comments sharing their stories of union abuse and calling for federal action to end union dues skimming from Medicaid.
On the West Coast, other noteworthy comments in support of the regulation’s repeal were submitted by:
- U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA)
- Former Washington Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders
- State Sen. Mark Schoesler (WA)
- State Sen. Randi Becker (WA)
- State Sen. John Braun (WA)
- State Sen. Ann Rivers (WA)
- State Sen. Mike Padden (WA)
- State Sen. Jan Angel (WA)
- State Sen. Lynda Wilson (WA)
- State Sen. Kim Thatcher (OR)
- State Rep. Mike Nearman (OR)
- Pacific Legal Foundation
- Washington Policy Center
- California Policy Center
Some noteworthy West Coast voices siding with government unions against caregivers included:
- U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (WA)
- Jay Inslee (WA)
- Kate Brown (OR)
- Attorney General Bob Ferguson (WA)
- Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (OR)
- Attorney General Xavier Becerra (CA)
- State Treasurer Tobias Read (OR)
- State Treasurer John Chiang (CA)
- State Controller Betty Yee (CA)
- State Sen. Sharon Nelson (WA)
- State Sen. Karen Keiser (WA)
- State Sen. Mark Miloscia (WA)
- State Rep. Frank Chopp (WA)
- State Rep. Eileen Cody (WA)
- State Rep. Paul Harris (WA)
- State Rep. Greg Smith (OR)
All told, several thousand comments were submitted from around the country. From Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson to conservative groups like Americans for Prosperity, the Federalist Society and Freedom Works, the Freedom Foundation’s comprehensive research on the subject was regularly referenced in comments supporting the end of Medicaid dues skimming.
Now that the comment period has closed, CMS will evaluate its proposed rule in light of the comments it received. There’s no way to know whether or how quickly CMS will proceed with its regulatory action but, for caregivers’ around the country being taken advantage of by government unions and their political allies, relief cannot come too soon.