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Capitol Correspondence - 12.17.20

Big Picture: How Biden Can Move His Economic Agenda Without Congress

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To educate our members on discussions surrounding the intersection of workforce policies and Medicaid policies under the incoming administration, we share this excerpt from the New York Times:

“Union leaders and policy experts say the next administration could do plenty on behalf of workers through regulation and other powers.

Helping Home-Care Workers

The federal government, through its control of the Medicaid program, could accomplish something similar for home-care workers, who usually work independently or for small agencies that have little power to raise pay because states set the rates for their services. The agencies sometimes resist union campaigns aggressively for fear that allowing workers to bargain for higher wages will put them at a competitive disadvantage.

A handful of Democratic-leaning states, like Washington, have addressed this issue by allowing workers to bargain with the state for rate increases that effectively apply industrywide, eliminating the downside that a single agency would face if it raised wages unilaterally.

The Service Employees International Union, which represents home-care workers across the country, believes that the Biden administration could encourage other states to create such industrywide bargaining arrangements — for example, by making additional money available to states that adopt this approach. Hundreds of thousands of additional home-care workers could benefit.

The federal government, under a provision in the Medicaid law that requires states to keep payments high enough to ensure an adequate supply of home-care workers, could also intervene directly to raise wages and benefits for these workers.

‘We look forward to working with the Biden administration to make changes to the Medicaid program that can turn home-care jobs into good union jobs,’ said Mary Kay Henry, the president of the service employees union.”