SACRAMENTO — California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar opposing the Trump Administration’s proposed rule that seeks to undermine California’s 400,000 homecare workers and the more than half a million people with disabilities they care for through the State’s In-Home Supportive Services program. In the State of California, these workers have the right to collectively bargain for better wages, benefits, and training. The proposed rule seeks to make it harder for homecare workers to stand up together for their rights at work and to provide quality home care to those who need it.
“The Trump Administration’s latest attack on unionized Medicaid home care workers is completely unjustified and unnecessary,” said Attorney General Becerra. “It seeks to hurt home care workers, and in doing so, jeopardizes the health of vulnerable Americans who rely on them. Many aged, blind, disabled or infirm Americans would not be able to live at home without the services of home care workers. The California Department of Justice will continue to fight to protect our vulnerable loved ones and the workers who make their living at home possible. We urge the Administration to withdraw this rule.”
On July 10, 2018, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a rule proposing to alter Medicaid state payment requirements. The rule is primarily based on a purported need to “eliminate a state’s ability to divert Medicaid payments away from providers,” yet it contains no data suggesting that Medicaid payments are being inappropriately diverted. Under California law, homecare workers who are hired by individuals with disabilities to provide personal care services, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, and transportation, are authorized to collectively bargain. The proposed rule seeks to interfere with California’s ability to deduct payments for benefits obtained through collective bargaining, like healthcare coverage or authorized union dues, from home care workers’ paychecks.
In the comment letter, Attorney General Becerra notes that HHS itself admits that it has not studied the possible economic impact of this rule, nor does it have data to warrant such a rule. The regulation was also unnecessarily issued on a shortened schedule, giving the public only 30 days to provide crucial information and feedback. Attorney General Becerra demands that if the Administration continues with the unjustified rule, it should extend the comment period to 60 days, to give the public more time to voice its opinions and concerns.