Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Attorney General Becerra Secures Victory in Lawsuit Defending Medicaid In-Home Supportive Services Workers


Attorney General Becerra Secures Victory in Lawsuit Defending Medicaid In-Home Supportive Services Workers

SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today secured a court decision blocking the Trump Administration’s efforts to implement a rule that would have undermined the rights of more than half a million healthcare workers in California’s In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) Medicaid program, and several hundred thousand more workers nationwide. In California, these workers have the right to collectively bargain for better wages, benefits, and training, which results in a more stable, quality IHSS program for beneficiaries. The court held that the rule would have unlawfully created barriers for states to deduct employee benefits and union dues from workers’ paychecks, a practice which makes it easier for workers to stand up together for their workplace rights and to provide quality home- and community-based care to those in need. The court found that the Trump Administration’s rule was illegally promulgated and vacated it.

“When the President attacks unionized healthcare workers, he puts the care of hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Californians at risk. Now more than ever, our healthcare workers are heroes serving on the front lines of the pandemic, and should be applauded for their work,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Fortunately, the court saw through the administration’s faulty posturing and sent them packing. This ruling is a victory for our state and for the collective bargaining rights of homecare workers who play a vital role in our healthcare system. Together, we’ll continue to stand up for workers every step of the way.”

In the nearly 30 years since California permitted collective bargaining for IHSS workers, elderly and disabled Californians have benefitted from a higher-quality, better-trained IHSS provider workforce with lower turnover. On May 13, 2019, Attorney General Becerra led a multistate lawsuit against the Trump Administration’s efforts to reinterpret Medicaid state payment requirements and undermine California’s healthcare policies. Under California law, Medicaid in-home workers who are hired by seniors and individuals with disabilities to provide personal care services, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, and transportation, are authorized to collectively bargain. The federal rule would have interfered with the states’ ability to deduct payments for worker benefits obtained through collective bargaining, like healthcare coverage or voluntary union dues, from homecare workers’ paychecks. This would have disrupted well-established collective bargaining relationships authorized for decades by state labor laws and put at risk the care of the more than 600,000 seniors and people with disabilities who receive assistance from the IHSS program in California.

Attorney General Becerra is committed to safeguarding the rights of California’s workers. In 2018, Attorney General Becerra filed a comment letter raising significant concerns with HHS’ proposal on Medicaid in-home workers. Earlier this week, he urged the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board to adopt an emergency temporary standard aimed at protecting workers across the state from exposure to COVID-19. In light of COVID-19, Attorney General Becerra called on Amazon and Whole Foods to step up efforts to protect workers by providing adequate paid sick leave. He also slammed the President’s reckless executive order forcing meat and poultry processing plant employees to work without adequate protections during the current public health crisis. Earlier this year, the Attorney General secured a settlement preventing Burger King, Popeyes, and Tim Hortons from using “no-poach” provisions in franchise contracts, which make it more difficult for workers to seek better pay and benefits at competing franchises. Last year, Attorney General Becerra reached an unprecedented settlement to resolve allegations that Sutter Health’s anticompetitive practices led to higher healthcare costs for patients in Northern California compared to other places in the state.

Attorney General Becerra was joined in the case by the attorneys general of Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington. 

A copy of the decision is available here.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Humboldt County Goes Red!

 From the Humboldt County Joint Information Center:

The State of California today moved a number of counties into more restrictive tiers in response to the fastest increase in cases and hospitalizations seen since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Humboldt County has been reassigned to the “red” or substantial tier.

The state will require various business sectors to reduce capacity or modify operations, while still following COVID-19 safety measures, including facial covering requirements, physical distancing and sanitation procedures. These requirements are expected to take effect within the next 24 hours.  

This move by the state reflects where the county’s data is today, with a case rate of 4.8 and a positivity rate of 2.0%. Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Teresa Frankovich said at the current pace, there is concern that the county will move into the more restrictive purple tier soon. “Since the state first implemented the Blueprint framework, they’ve signaled that they could move faster if conditions warranted. Our recent data shows why that makes sense because this virus is moving faster than we have ever seen, and rapid response can help to slow the upward trajectory.” 

“We need to reduce interactions between people who don’t already live together, and we need to do it now. Travel to visit family and friends as well as bringing out-of-town guests into our homes is driving about half of our cases,” Dr. Frankovich said, adding that gatherings occurring indoors between multiple households is contributing “enormously” to case counts.  

Some of the state’s requirements under the red tier include:

Bars, Breweries and Distilleries – Closed.

Wineries – Open outdoors only.

Family Entertainment Centers – Open outdoors only.

Retail – Open indoors at maximum 50% capacity.

Shopping Centers, Malls, Swap Meets - Open indoors at maximum 50% capacity; Close common areas; Reduce food court capacity to 25% or 100 people, whichever is fewer.

Museums, Zoos and Aquariums – Open indoors at maximum 25% capacity. 

Places of Worship – Open indoors at maximum 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer. 

Movie Theaters - Open indoors at maximum 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer.

Hotels and Lodging – Close indoor pools, hot tubs and spa facilities; Fitness centers reduced to maximum 10% capacity.

Gyms and Fitness Centers - Open indoors at maximum 10% capacity; Close indoor pools, saunas, steam rooms, hot tubs.

Restaurants - Open indoors at maximum 25% capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer. 

“We simply need to stop traveling and stop gathering, especially indoors. It isn’t safe, and it is impacting our schools and our business communities,” Dr. Frankovich said. “The upcoming holidays need to be single household celebrations if we want to get through this pandemic with fewer hospitalizations and fewer lives lost.” 

To view COVID-19 safety modifications by industry sector, visit this link. For a complete list of requirements in the red or substantial tier, go to this link.  

For the most recent COVID-19 information, visit cdc.gov or cdph.ca.gov. Local information is available at humboldtgov.org or during business hours by contacting covidinfo@co.humboldt.ca.us or calling 707-441-5000. 

US Senator Joe Liberman, WTC 7 Did Not Occur