home health care

U.S. Supreme Court

A U.S. Supreme Court decision that limits how unions can organize many workers who are paid with public money also upholds a two-year-old Michigan law. And it could have an effect on the ongoing litigation over home health care workers.

Unions saw an opportunity to increase their ranks by organizing home health care assistants – independent contractors, often family members, who provide home care for elderly people, patients in recovery, and children. 

Republicans in the Legislature outlawed mandatory union membership for publicly paid home health assistants in 2012. That same year, voters also rejected a ballot proposal to allow it.

“And this really settles the issue in Michigan and nationally,” said Patrick Wright. He’s an attorney with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which filed a lawsuit against the organizing effort. “The United States Supreme Court has looked at something that we said was illegal and said, yes, this is illegal across the entire country.”

MDCH / MDCH

Michigan Health Director Jim Haveman says a Medicaid program that pays for in-home care is being revamped.

A recent state audit showed the program allowed some convicted felons to work with patients.

Haveman says the changes will protect taxpayers and patients.

Anna Strumillo / fotopedia

Under the federally-funded Home Help Services Program, qualifying elderly or disabled residents of Michigan are eligible to receive in-home assistance with personal care and household chores.

Participants of the program have discretion in the hiring and firing of home health aides, and have their services paid for by Medicaid funds administered through the Michigan departments of Community Health and Human Services.

Patrick Wright of the Mackinac Center says home health care workers are being forced to pay union dues.
Mackinac Center

Michigan could void its contract with thousands of home health care workers if a state board agrees with a legal action filed this week by the Mackinac Center.

The free market think tank is asking the Michigan Employment Relations Commission to rule that home health care workers aren’t public employees, but rather private contractors who can’t unionize.

The workers are organized under the Service Employees International Union.

The Mackinac Center’s Pat Wright says they’re forced to pay dues that should be going to patient care.

Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Power outages continue
 Utilities say crews worked through the night to restore electricity to thousands of Michigan homes and businesses without power following this week's severe thunderstorms, the Associated Press reports. From the AP: