Employers Eye Moving Sickest Workers To Insurance Exchanges

Employers have found yet another way to cut costs by shifting operating expenses onto the government and tax payers.

Moving even a few high-risk patients to exchange coverage could add millions of dollars in costs to those plans. The costs would be passed on to customers in the form of higher premiums and to taxpayers in the form of higher subsidy expense. By shrinking the hospital and doctor network to make the company plan unattractive to those with chronic illness or raising co-payments for drugs needed by the chronically ill, companies could make the plan unattractive, effectively pushing high-cost workers to look at other options.

Would he be happier with a health plan bought on the exchange? His boss probably would be. iStockphoto

Would he be happier with a health plan bought on the exchange? His boss probably would be. (iStockphoto)

“Shifting high-risk workers out of employer plans is prohibited for other kinds of taxpayer-supported insurance. For example, it’s illegal to induce somebody who is working and over 65 to drop company coverage and rely entirely on the government Medicare program for seniors, said Amy Gordon, a benefits lawyer with McDermott Will & Emery. Similarly, employers who dumped high-cost patients into temporary high-risk pools established by the health law are required to repay those workers’ claims to the pools. “You would think there would be a similar type of provision under the Affordable Care Act” for plans sold through the marketplace portals, Gordon said. “But there currently is not.””

Read the full NPR story here

Happy International Workers’ Day!

May Day is International Workers’ Day, a day to uphold workers’ struggle around the world. In over 80 countries May 1 is an official holiday. International Workers’ Day is the commemoration of the May 4, 1886 Haymarket affair in Chicago. Police were trying to disperse a public assembly during a general strike for the eight-hour workday and fired on the workers, killing four demonstrators.

MayDay 3

Unions in the United States — especially in urban areas with strong support for organized labor — have maintained a connection with labor traditions through their own unofficial observances on May 1. In 2006, May 1 was chosen by mostly Latino immigrant groups in the United States as the day for the Great American Boycott, a general strike of undocumented immigrant workers and supporters to protest H.R. 4437 immigration reform legislation.

On May 1, 2012, tens of thousands marched in the streets of New York and around the US to commemorate May Day as the worker’s holiday and to protest the dismal state of the economy, the growing divide between the rich and the poor and the status quo of economic inequality. Members of Occupy Wall Street and labor unions held protests together in a number of cities in the United States and Canada on May 1, 2012 to commemorate May Day.

How will you celebrate May Day this year?

How often are unauthorized immigrant workers trafficked and abused?

A recent study finds that more than 30% of undocumented migrant laborers are victims of labor trafficking and 55% are victims of other labor abuses.

“One shouldn’t be surprised by the findings from the study. While we are all striving for a better life, we as a society should become more conscientious about improving the working conditions of those whom we have come to depend on for our living standard,” commented the study authors.

The researchers also found that illegal status is likely the most significant factor contributing to vulnerability to trafficking violations and abuse.

“Labor trafficking and other forms of gross exploitation are happening in the U.S. and always to those who have the least,” the researchers concluded. “The challenge is to figure out what to do about them.”

Read more about this study here

Wal-Mart Accused of Violating Workers’ Rights

Complaint from National Labor Relations Board Follows Unsuccessful Settlement Talks

“WASHINGTON—The National Labor Relations Board on Wednesday accused Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of unlawfully retaliating against or threatening workers who took part in strikes and protests in more than a dozen states in the last two years. The formal complaint sets up a battle between the nation’s largest retail chain and an independent federal agency that Republicans and business groups have accused of unfairly bolstering labor unions. The NLRB has denied any bias.

Protesters marched outside a Wal-Mart store in Elgin, Ill., in November. Reuters

Protesters marched outside a Wal-Mart store in Elgin, Ill., in November. Reuters

“The agency, charged with overseeing union elections and resolving private-sector employee-management disputes, had said in November that it was prepared to file a complaint but delayed action to give the parties a chance to reach a settlement. The NLRB filed the complaint on behalf of union affiliated group OUR Walmart. The complaint involves more than 60 employees and names more than 60 company supervisors and a Wal-Mart corporate officer, David Tovar, the NLRB said.”

 Read more of the story by MELANIE TROTTMAN And SHELLY BANJO from The Wall Street Journal.

Workers’ Memorial Day 2014

“Workers’ Memorial Day is observed every year on April 28. It is a day to honor those workers who have died on the job, to acknowledge the grievous suffering experienced by families and communities, and to recommit ourselves to the fight for safe and healthful workplaces for all workers. It is also the day OSHA was established in 1971. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their workers. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.”

U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez will join in a webcast at 2 p.m. EDT today, April 28, to mark Workers’ Memorial Day. Safety agencies worldwide will do the same — NIOSH, OSHA, IOSH, and many more.

No one should have to die in order to make a living.

Hundreds of DPW employees from throughout the state line the street at St. Patrick's Church in Natick in early February for the funeral procession of Michael McDaniel, the Natick DPW worker killed on the job at a road excavation site. Daily News Staff File Photo / Allan Jung

Hundreds of DPW employees from throughout the state of Massachusetts line the street at St. Patrick’s Church in Natick in early February for the funeral procession of Michael McDaniel, the Natick DPW worker killed on the job at a road excavation site. Daily News Staff File Photo / Allan Jung

“Michael McDaniel was just doing his job as public works foreman, trying to fix a water main break when he was struck and killed by a backhoe in February. The 48-year-old worked for the Natick Department of Public Works for 26 years. Co-worker Scott Spurling was injured in the accident. Each week an average of 28 municipal workers in Massachusetts alone suffer injuries serious enough to be out of work for five or more days, according to data from the Massachusetts Department of Industrial accidents.” Read more on this story from the Patriot Ledger here

For more information and data on workplace deaths and injuries nationwide, visit OSHA.

 

LA Senate panel kills proposed minimum wage hike

“What was likely the last gasp came in a meeting of the Senate Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations, where state Sen. Ben Nevers asked his colleagues to advance legislation setting minimum wage at $9.50 an hour. Committee members listened, asked a few questions, killed Senate Bill 123 and adjourned for the weekend.

“On the other side of the State Capitol, the House Labor Committee already held the funerals for a slate of bills that sought to tinker with minimum wage. One of the dead proposals would have set a minimum wage of $8.25 beginning on July 1, 2015, and then gradually increased it. Another would have created a $10.10 minimum wage.

“Still in circulation is Senate Bill 46, which would establish a minimum wage of $10 an hour, even higher than Nevers’ proposal. State Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb, D-Baton Rouge, could have run with the bill Thursday but didn’t. “Maybe some of my colleagues may have a change of heart this weekend,” she said.”

Louisiana remains one of a handful of states in the U.S. without an established minimum wage. Read more of the story here.

Restaurant Industry Pay: Taxpayers’ Double Burden

“New report shows that while restaurant executives are fighting living wages for their workers, they’re also benefiting from tax subsidies for their own pay. Major restaurant chains have come under increasing criticism for paying workers so little that they need to rely on public assistance. What’s less well known is that taxpayers are also subsidizing these corporations’ executive compensation.”

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Find the full report here.

 

Treat wage theft as a criminal offense

Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post explains why “wage theft is an old problem. It can take many forms, including paying less than the minimum hourly wage, working employees off the clock, not paying required overtime rates and shifting hours into the next pay period so that overtime isn’t incurred. Unfortunately, reliable data on the magnitude of the problem are scarce. Workers can be afraid to report the theft for fear of losing their jobs altogether, especially in today’s terrible economy, and many don’t know their rights. Often workers don’t even realize their pay is being skimmed.”

Read more about how employers get away with stealing from their employees here