Keep Home Care a Safe Choice in Michigan – Vote YES! on Proposal 4

Keep following the money, folks

Second in a series on the ballot proposals on Michigan’s November 6, 2012 ballot. Read them all HERE.

Proposal 4 — the Keep Home Care a Safe Choice ballot initiative — is all but a no-brainer for me. It will protect both patients and those who care for them. It goes without saying that our home health care providers are doing yeoman’s work caring for our most vulnerable citizens. These unsung heroes do the hard and indescribably valuable and necessary work to keep patients receiving home care comfortable and able to stay in their own homes. Not only that, they do it for a relative pittance while saving our health care system an enormous amount of money.

Consider this from the AARP:

Rebalancing the state’s system of long-term supports and services saves taxpayers $57,338 per participant and enables Medicaid dollars to support nearly three older citizens for every one person in a nursing home, a national analysis indicates.

“A long-term care system that begins with the individual and helps people stay in their homes and communities can prevent a costly and unnecessary stay in a nursing home,” said Robert Kolt, AARP Michigan President. “A rebalanced system would serve the needs of older Michiganders and their families, while at the same time, making more efficient use of public resources.”

Here are some of the components of Proposal 4:

  • Oversee a registry that links home care recipients with pre-screened home care providers in their area.
  • Require home care providers on the registry to undergo criminal background checks to ensure safety for home care recipients.
  • Give home care providers access to critical job training, so they can better care for seniors and persons with disabilities.
  • Save taxpayer dollars in avoided nursing home costs, since home care is significantly less expensive to taxpayers than nursing homes, according to numerous non-partisan studies.

But, as you would expect, there is opposition to Prop 4 and it’s coming from groups — the Nursing Home industry and their executives — that stand to lose in profits, a natural outcome of a for-profit health care system.

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce is part of the “Hands Off Our Constitution” coalition which is urging voters to “Vote No on Everything”. Not surprisingly, some of their “leaders” have their hands in the till, too. The Chair of their Health and Human Resources Committee is David Leonard, the General Counsel for Spectrum Health System. Spectrum Health is a service provider to nursing homes.

Another member of the Hands Off Our Constitution coalition is the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. You won’t be surprised to find that several of their members are … wait for it … nursing home groups.

The far-right, conservative political group, The Mackinac Center, is also vigorously opposing Prop 4. Not surprisingly, one of their Board Members, Rodney Lockwood, is the Chairman/CEO of the Lockwood Companies, which “develops, constructs and manages … senior citizen communities”.

The fight by nursing home groups to protect their profits wouldn’t be so troubling if nursing homes were performing at the level that we all would expect them to. Unfortunately, that is not the case. A study by researchers at Michigan State University revealed some shocking facts:

More than one in five elderly nursing home residents in Michigan are neglected – a “very serious problem” that calls for changes in care and policy, according to a new study led by Michigan State University researchers.

The study, appearing in the January issue of the Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect, also argues the most vulnerable residents are most likely to be neglected – including those with severe physical limitations and behavior problems that may stem from an illness such as dementia, said lead researcher Zhenmei Zhang, assistant professor of sociology.

“These nursing home residents are very dependent on their caregivers for food, water and personal hygiene needs,” Zhang said, “and if they are neglected it can lead to serious consequences such as malnutrition, dehydration, bed sores and even early death.”

The study is one of the first to examine risk factors for elder neglect in nursing homes based on a survey of residents’ family members. It found that about 21 percent of residents were neglected at least once in the past year – a number that very likely is an underestimate because family members aren’t aware of all incidents of neglect, Zhang said.

“This is probably the tip of the iceberg,” she said.

In addition to saving money and protecting both home health care workers and their patients, Proposal 4 will allow seniors and persons with disabilities the choice to direct their own care while remaining healthy and independent in their own homes, instead of forcing them into expensive nursing homes or other institutions. It’s truly a win-win situation.

Opposition to Proposal 4, just like some of the other proposals, is all about protecting profits. Proposal 4 itself, however, is about protecting vulnerable patients and their caregivers. When you contrast those who oppose Prop 4 with those who support it — advocates for senior citizens, disability rights advocates, law enforcement agencies, veterans, the faith community, health & community advocates, and countless thoughtful public officials — the choice is clear:

VOTE YES! ON PROPOSAL 4 ON THE NON-PARTISAN SECTION OF THE NOVEMBER BALLOT

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  • Ronald Milliron

    Sent the following to “The Building Tradesman”. What has been expressed is based on personal experience with the SEIU on this issue and ACTUALLY READING. the full proposal language.

    I
    have read the latest edition of The Building Tradesman. Your endorsement of
    ballot proposal #4 is deeply troubling. The TV ads and your endorsement both
    characterize proposal 4 as an initiative that will guarantee collective
    bargaining for “home health care workers”. What your endorsement analysis fails
    to note is that proposal 4 does no such thing. Home health care workers ACTUALLY
    EMPLOYED by a company providing such services already have this right. Some of
    the supporting ads also indicate that this proposition will somehow affect the
    bargaining rights of nurses. This assertion is also fraudulent.

    Having
    read the actual language of the proposal, I am aware that it adds only one
    sentence to existing law and will have only one major effect, it will define
    all “home health care workers not previously classified as employees”, as
    employees subject to this measure and bring those “workers” under the sway of
    the SEIU as union members.

    Home
    health care workers “not previously defined as employees”, are in fact the
    approximately 53000 individuals in this state that receive Federal Medicaid
    assistance, under a 1981 law, to care for handicapped family members in their
    own homes. These individuals are not employees in any sense of the word. The
    SEIU can not negotiate wage rates or working conditions for these people. They
    are, similarly in no position to provide the supposed training they claim they
    will provide nor are background checks, which by the way can be done on
    legitimate home health care workers without this proposal, either necessary or
    possible. The vaunted home health care worker registry, is completely
    irrelevant to the handicapped family members these people care for. The idea
    that these handicapped individuals will consult any such registry and select a
    care giver from that list is completely absurd and the inclusion of their care
    givers on any such list serves no legitimate purpose. This proposed law is a
    complete sham in its publicized intent and is one of the slimiest union power
    grabs I have been witness to in my 38 years as a union member. If this proposal
    passes, legitimate employees working in the home health care field will not be
    affected in ANY way while 53000 individuals who are NOT employees will be
    assessed union dues or union fees of some sort and receive absolutely nothing
    in return. The only party that will benefit from the passage of this proposal
    is the SEIU which will be allowed to continue to collect dues based on their
    fraudulent assertion that they somehow can or will provide representation and
    support for these individuals.

    This
    is an attempt by the SEIU to re-establish the practice of taking dues from
    non-employee care givers that has been discredited and stopped by the State of
    Michigan. Your support of this initiative is unworthy of an honest union
    organization as it victimizes a large class of individuals rather than
    providing a vehicle for the improvement of their situation. I sincerely hope
    that you will actually read the full language of the proposal, come to understand
    its true impact and recant your support for proposal 4.

    • http://eclectablog.com Eclectablog

      You, sir, are ill-informed.

      I commend your attention to the Michigan Truth Squad’s excellent analysis here: http://michigantruthsquad.com/citizens-for-affordable-quality-home-care-tv-ads-and-mailer/
      Prop 4 certainly does reinstate union membership and, therefore, collective bargain rights, for home healthcare workers.
      It’s also worth noting that when these people were polled on union membership, the majority of them voted yes.
      Take your union bashing elsewhere.

      • Ron Milliron

        The Michigan Truth Squad is, similar to the Michigan Quality Home Health Care Commission, an SEIU doppelganger. You state that Prop 4 DOES reinstate union membership. In a twisted sense you are correct, it reinstates union membership for non-employee health care workers just as I stated. You claim that they joined voluntarily as a result of a vote. Very few of these individual care givers ever received any notification of any kind regarding pending unions membership, let alone an actual ballot. We have spoken to dozens of these individuals, nor one of whom, ever had any knowledge of any pending union representation election. every one of these people we have spoken to have categorically rejected any desire or need to be part of a union. There is no legitimate reason for proposition 4 other than to reestablish the SEIU’s illegitimate collection of dues from private individuals caring for family members.
        My statements are not, as you wish to characterize them, union bashing. I have been a member in good standing of the IBEW for 38 years. I support the need for legitimate union representation. What I oppose is union activities that run counter to the philosophies on which unionism was based, improving the lot of the working man or woman. Proposition 4 serves no purpose beyond the enrichment of the SEIU and the redirection of Medicaid assistance dollars from those who need them to those who would do nothing other than victimize them.

        • http://eclectablog.com Eclectablog

          I stopped reading after this bit of fantasy: “The Michigan Truth Squad is, similar to the Michigan Quality Home Health Care Commission, an SEIU doppelganger.”
          Peddle your anti-labor garbage somewhere else.

          • Ron Milliron

            You need to hear the truth. My family has been directly involved in this. Has your?

  • Melanie Bowen

    Hi there!
    I have a quick question about your blog! Please email me when you get a chance.
    Melanie

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