News of the Month — July

NewsJuly 26, 2018

Two Marin nursing homes where NUHW members have sounded the alarm about understaffing are among 15 statewide that have been hit by class action lawsuits alleging that their owner systematically understaffed them to increase his profits, the Marin Independent Journal reports. The suits allege that the owner of the centers concealed the fact that the sites were not adequately staffed to meet the needs of its residents during the admission process in violation of the state Patients’ Bill of Rights. The suits, which were filed in Marin Superior Court and other California courts this month, name Shlomo Rechnitz and a number of other entities — Brius Management, ASRU, Rockport Administrative Services, Novato Healthcare Center and San Rafael Wellness — as defendants.

Despite the low unemployment, companies still appear hesitant to significantly raise pay in many industries, the Washington Post reports. Average hourly earnings are 2.7 percent higher than a year ago, a lackluster pace compared to past eras of healthy job growth when wages were rising at 3.5 percent or more a year.

The Trump administration is freezing payments under an “Obamacare” program that protects insurers with sicker patients from financial losses, a move expected to add to premium increases next year, The New York Times reports. At stake are billions in payments to insurers with sicker customers. The latest administration action could disrupt the Affordable Care Act, the health care law that has withstood President Donald Trump’s efforts to completely repeal it. The so-called “risk adjustment” program takes payments from insurers with healthier customers and redistributes that money to companies with sicker enrollees. Payments for 2017 are $10.4 billion. The idea behind the program is to remove the financial incentive for insurers to “cherry pick” healthier customers. 

With Verity looking to sell its hospitals including Seton Medical Center, the Mercury News warns that the Bay Area is at risk of losing even more hospitals.

The fall in the percentage of economic growth flowing to workers is “very troubling,” Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell told a Senate panel Tuesday. According to the Washington Post, Powell expressed concern that the share of the national income going to American labor had fallen “precipitously” for more than a decade and was not reversing course.

The Trump administration continues its attack on workers and unions, The Hill reports. Its latest volley is a Department of Health and Human Services proposal, announced on Thursday, that would impose a difficult and time-consuming burden on these workers’ exercise of their bargaining rights. The administration proposes to forbid certain home care workers whose services are funded by Medicaid from choosing to pay their union dues directly from their paychecks, as hundreds of thousands are doing now.