Last month, I wrote about an attempt to privatize the nurse aides at a veteran’s health care facility in Michigan.
A plan to privatize nurses aides at a state-run veterans health care facility is drawing sharp criticism from unions as well as patients at the facility. At a Michigan Civil Service Commission (MCSC) hearing this week, Commissioners heard from a variety of speakers asking them to reverse their decision.
The move is another effort by Michigan Republicans to privatize as many state-provided services as possible to save money, $4.2 million annually in this case. Unfortunately, the money savings from this move may actually threaten the health of military veterans.
Last week, an Ingham County judge put the brakes on it.
An Ingham County judge ordered a halt Friday to the state’s plans to privatize nursing aide jobs at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, saying she feared the change would cause “irreparable harm” to the more than 600 vets who live there.
The privatization “all comes down to money, really,” said Circuit Judge Paula Manderfield, noting state officials said they need to save $18,000 a day by turning 170 resident-care aide positions over to a contractor, who pays workers about half as much money.
“The home can make cuts in other areas, or perhaps they can get some more money from the state,” the judge said.
Assistant Attorney General Joseph Froehlich, representing the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs that runs the home, said he will appeal. Manderfield denied his request for a stay of her order pending the appeal
Gov. Rick Snyder, who forecast $4.2 million in savings from the move, is disappointed and anticipates an emergency appeal, his spokeswoman, Sara Wurfel, said. “We continue to be focused on providing the highest quality of care and respect for our veterans,” while implementing reforms to get the state “back on a sustainable, financially viable track,” she said.
As my original piece shows, there is solid evidence that this move could compromise the health and safety of injured veterans. But, hey, if it saves money that can be used for tax breaks for businesses, it’s worth appealing, according to the Governor. In fact, it constitutes an “emergency”.