Uncle Sam a "Scab"?

  1. O.K. I promise I won't beat a dead horse. But this story has been posted under two other threads and doesn't seem to generate any interest. I'm curious as to why people aren't outraged about this?

    Maybe it just needed a more attention grabbing title. So this is my last try at opening some dialogue and interest in this topic.

    NURSING HOME STRIKE
    Conneticut
    Medicaid To Help Pay For Strike

    The Hartford Courant
    May 30, 2001

    When Gov. John G. Rowland vowed to pay nursing homes for replacement workers and other costs during the statewide strikes this month and in March, he had the ultimate financial backer: the U.S. government.

    Federal Medicaid dollars will be used to reimburse the state by up to 50 percent of about $25 million in strike-related costs, Rowland administration officials said.

    The arrangement would apparently set a new, national precedent, union officials and a labor expert at Wesleyan University said. Medicaid reimbursement angers some supporters of the strike, who said that Rowland already favored the nursing home companies by paying for their strike costs - and that adding federal dollars to the mix only pushes the scales further in favor of the homes.

    "NOWHERE ELSE IN THE NATION HAS A STATE DECIDED TO USE PUBLIC MEDICAID ON SUCH A MASSIVE SCALE TO TRY TO BREAK A STRIKE", said Jeff Cappella, spokesman for the Service Employees International Union in Washington, D.C. "MEDICAID DOLLARS ARE DESIGNED TO BE USED FOR HEALTHCARE AND NOTHING ELSE. ACTIVITIES LIKE THIS OUGHT TO BE PROHIBITED."

    Some top-ranking Democrat legislators on Tuesday suggested that Medicaid officials, or perhaps Congress, will consider tightening the rules after the Connecticut episode.

    "I don't know what people anticipated when they wrote the regulations that allowed the reimbursement," said state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin B. Sullivan, D-West Hartford. "That clearly works to the disadvantage of employees in a collective bargaining dispute."

    But the governor had no such intent when he promised nursing homes he would recoup their expenses, said his spokesman, Dean Pagani: "The governor didn't look at it as fighting the strike or fighting the union. He looked at it as, `What do I do now that thousands of nursing home workers have walked off their jobs?' " ... Nobody looked at it as a strategy. The governor has a very good relationship with the unions."

    For other bargaining units, that's true. But the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199, is still fighting Rowland in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport over use of TAXPAYER DOLLARS for replacement workers. And, the union's spokeswoman said, it still holds Rowland responsible for the outcome.

    The union called a one-day strike in March, which stretched to five days in some homes. In the first week of May, about 4,500 workers went on strike at more than four dozen homes. By mid-month, most of the workers were back at their jobs with new agreements on pay and staffing levels far less than they demanded.

    Several hundred workers remain on strike at three homes, where replacement workers are still in place.

    The federal reimbursement "certainly adds a little twist of the knife," said Deborah Chernoff, District 1199 spokeswoman. "It's a good illustration of the fact that labor law in this country has become more and more skewed toward the employers."

    Some of the money would have been reimbursed anyway, because it would have been spent on regular nursing home employees. Marc S. Ryan, Rowland's budget chief, said Tuesday that the state's strike costs, including replacement workers, police protection and other expenses, will cost an estimated $27 MILLION - of which about $25 million will be eligible for reimbursement.

    Ryan said he did not know how much of that amount is over and above the normal, reimbursable costs for nursing homes. But replacement workers have been paid about twice the typical wage, and employees' pay makes up the bulk of nursing home costs.

    Jonathan Cutler, a Wesleyan University sociology professor and labor expert, called the reimbursement a "historic innovation" which governors could use to BREAK strikes.

    "It is, as far as I can tell, completely unprecedented for a governor to get involved to the degree that he did," Cutler said, noting that New York Gov. George Pataki, a Republican like Rowland, declined to intervene in nursing home strikes in that state.
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  2. 8 Comments

  3. by   fiestynurse
    I am outraged at this PeggyOhio!! It doesn't surprise me though. Healthcare in our country is such a mess. Just one appalling thing, after another. I see that the union involved in this situation has spoken to representatives in Washington to get the rules tightened on how Medicaide dollars are spent. Hopefully, this will never happen again. And guess who won't be voting for Gov. Rowland in the next election?
  4. by   rncountry
    This article should go to every single congressman and woman, as well as every single senator, and we need to ask why medicaid dollars can be spent in this manner, but we don't have enough to take care of our "greatest generation" in our countries nursing homes!
  5. by   mustangsheba
    I hadn't seen this before. I don't understand how this can be legal. We need to let our representatives know this isn't acceptable. I plan to send a copy to each of my senators and the governor here in Oregon with a cover letter.
  6. by   kjmta57
    think this need to go to a good lawyer for inappropiate use of funds of tax dollars.
  7. by   Charles S. Smith, RN, MS
    Originally posted by rncountry:
    <STRONG>This article should go to every single congressman and woman, as well as every single senator, and we need to ask why medicaid dollars can be spent in this manner, but we don't have enough to take care of our "greatest generation" in our countries nursing homes!</STRONG>
    I agree that this is a capricious and ill thought out financial strategy..I certainly would not want Virginia funds used in such a manner, especially since our Medicaid system is already in trouble. I think it is time to send this message to my Congresspersons as well.

    chas
  8. by   PeggyOhio
    Whew! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I was beginning to think I had gone over the edge, seemingly the only one who reacted to this. As I said it was posted in two previous threads, no reaction.

    Please do, everyone, write to your legislators. I already did.
  9. by   -jt
    Whew! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I was beginning to think I had gone over the edge, seemingly the only one who reacted to this.

    you werent. I saw red when I first found it!
    In fact I said out loud OMG! WHAT NEXT? My 13 yr old daughter reminded me to never ask that question because I might find out.
  10. by   RNPD
    PeggyO, I did see this info a while ago. I was so incensed, so outraged, that I thought I would have a stroke! I honestly couldn't find the words at the time to express how I felt and by the time I cooled off, the topic was no longer on top and I guess I just let it go. But I wanted to move to Connecticut just so I could NOT vote for Rowland if he runs again. I DO have a sister in Connecticut though, and I will tell her not to vote for him and ask her friends not to vote as well. Now that you brought it to my attention again, I will email my outrage to the guv as well.

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