News Story

'Dues Skim' Proponents, State Department Struggle to Explain Health Care Scheme

Group would lock in millions for SEIU in forced unionization

Those promoting the "Keep Home Care Safe" ballot proposal want people to believe the constitution changing plan would create a benefit to allow disabled people to be taken care of in their homes.

The thing is, that protection and a program to ensure it continues already exists.

The federal Home Help Program would continue to exist in Michigan regardless of the constitutional amendment change that's being proposed.

However, passing the proposed amendment in November would lock the forced unionization of home health care workers into the state constitution and ensure that the Service Employees International Union continues to get about $6 million a year in dues from workers who have been forced to join the union. To date, the union has taken more than $31 million from workers.

Under the existing Home Help Program, elderly patients and others suffering from various ailments can be cared for at home instead of being placed in nursing homes. It's estimated that in about 75 percent of the cases, those providing the care in the Home Help Program are relatives or friends of the patient.

Confusion has been a constant theme surrounding the SEIU scheme to trap unsuspecting workers into the union. The Michigan Quality Community Care Council (MQC3), for example, was the dummy employer the SEIU used to facilitate its forced unionization scheme in 2005.

So it would seem logical that the MQC3 would then be responsible for unemployment insurance benefits for workers it is supposed to represent. But when asked who, or what, is considered the employer of Home Help Program hired workers when they file for unemployment benefits, officials at the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency said the Michigan Department of Community Health would be considered the employer for purposes of applying for unemployment benefits.

In other words, although these workers are not state employees, a state department is considered their employer if they file for unemployment.

Michigan's Unemployment Trust Fund is financed solely from employers. This means the state (the Michigan Department of Community Health), if it is classified as the employer for the purposes of those filing for unemployment benefits, has to reimburse the trust fund.

However, the facts about this set-up were apparently unknown to many or most of those who work at MDCH.

When asked how many of the home health care workers from the Home Help Program had filed for unemployment, MDCH spokesperson Angela Minicuci said the "MDCH is not the employer of the home help caregivers so we do not have any unemployment information."

Capitol Confidential then asked Minicuci to check further, pointing out that, according to UIA, the Michigan Department of Community Health was considered the employer regarding those who apply for unemployment.

On Aug. 1, Minicuci's response was: "It’s a little more complicated than that. The beneficiaries are the employer, and pay unemployment as reimbursing employers. That means that MDCH pays unemployment on behalf of the beneficiaries and is then reimbursed. I’m checking to see if we have that data, but so far I have not been able to locate it."

The beneficiaries are the Medicaid recipients who receive Medicaid checks, minus the union dues being taken by the SEIU. Minicuci checked again and later said: "It looks like the information I received (on Wednesday) was incorrect. MDCH is considered the fiscal agent so we do pay unemployment for 434 individuals as of July 7, 2012."

The confusion about who or what agency is the employer is not new.

The MQC3 was the dummy employer used for the forced unionization. Once the unionization was successful it stopped calling itself the employer. From that point on it claimed to be an agency with a board of directors that maintained a voluntary registry of so-called home health care workers. Based on the six-year history of this registry, it's likely that if the legislature wanted to create the same registry within a department, it could be maintained by one or two employees.

The following is information obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request has been handed out by the MQC3 to so-called home health care workers seeking employment  in the Home Help Program.

Here's some of the MQC3 provided information:

We [MQC3] are not your employer.

- The Consumer is your employer.

- You will still need to be interviewed and hired by the Consumer. The Consumer may also terminate your employment at any time.

The Consumer (or beneficiary) is the person who gets the Medicaid check. What if the consumer is a parent taking care of a developmentally disabled child or a relative taking care of a disabled elderly person? At that point, are they the employer? Are they the home health care worker? Are they both at the same time?

The SEIU and others, including Dohn Hoyle, treasurer and co-chairman of the "Keep Home Care Safe” ballot proposal, have chosen not to respond to questions for comment. Hoyle also is executive director of The Arc Michigan, an agency that works with people with developmental disabilities, and he's a member of the MQC3 board.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.