Trump halts outrageous looting of Medicaid payments to skim money for unions
Money meant for patient care is no longer being skimmed off and sent to far-left unions, who typically recycle it as political donations to Democrats. President Trump, like President Obama, has a pen and a phone, meaning the ability to change administrative regulations. Via his appointee Seema Verma, head of the Department of Health and Human Services's Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, he has ended an outrageous practice by some states, forcing home care providers — even relatives of the patient — to join unions, and then deducting union dues from the Medicaid payments before they reach the patient.
Bill McMorris writes in the Free Beacon:
Labor organizations will no longer be allowed to skim dues money from the checks of Medicaid patients under new rules adopted by the Trump administration.
The Department of Health and Human Services's [sic] Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services adopted a new regulation that will prohibit states from siphoning money from caregiver reimbursements to third parties. The rule takes direct aim at state policies enacted to enrich union coffers.
"State Medicaid programs are responsible for ensuring that taxpayer dollars are dedicated to providing healthcare services for low-income, vulnerable Americans and are not diverted in ways that do not comply with federal law," CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a release. "This final rule is intended to ensure that providers receive their complete payment."
The scheme already has been blocked by courts in Illinois, but this extends that ban nationally. The sums of money involved are significant and have been used to enrich two far left unions of government employees, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) that are among the biggest donors to Democrats.
The issue gained national prominence when the Supreme Court struck down a coercive dues scheme adopted by imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich in Illinois. The Court ruled in Harris v. Quinn that the state policy was unconstitutional because it treated home health aides as government employees for the purpose of paying labor giants Service Employees International Union and American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, but otherwise received no other benefits or services from state government. The 5-4 ruling, however, only struck down the scheme in Illinois, leaving other states free to continue similar policies.
Labor organizations collected more than $50 million from home health aides over a five-year period following Blagojevich's policy. CMS found that tens of millions of dollars continued to flow from disabled clients to unions despite the Harris ruling, thanks in part to an Obama administration rule that allowed state governments to direct payments to third parties. Of the 7,000 public comments filed to the agency in the wake of the proposal, one estimated that more than $1.4 billion has been redirected since 2000.
Trump is using Medicaid money to benefit patients and caregivers, not unions. I dare unions to make an issue of this, and I double-dare the Democrats to do the same. Go ahead, make my day.
Hat tip: Ed Lasky.