Attorney: Policymakers should ensure it can't happen again, end similar scheme affected home health care providers
For Immediate Release
Friday, July 15, 2011
Contact: Patrick J. Wright
Director, Mackinac Center Legal Foundation
Michael D. Jahr
Vice President for Communications, Mackinac Center for Public Policy
MIDLAND — The Mackinac Center Legal Foundation’s lawsuit against the Department of Human Services challenging the diversion of private home-based day care subsidies to a government employees union ended this week when the Michigan Supreme Court declared the controversy “moot.” The court likely reached this conclusion based on the Snyder administration’s decision to dismantle the program last March. MCLF Director Patrick J. Wright said that while he is pleased that his clients are free from this illegal money-grabbing scheme, state policymakers have not taken adequate steps to prevent it from happening to others.
“Justice prevailed in the sense that the illegal diversion of money has been stopped — but much remains to be done,” said Wright, who sued the DHS on behalf of home-based day care providers Sherry Loar of Petoskey, Michelle Berry of Flint and Paulette Silverson of Brighton. “Our clients’ willingness to stand up for principle led to the end of this scheme for day care providers, but a similar arrangement involving home health workers remains in place. Both schemes were designed to aid political allies of the Granholm administration by diverting to labor unions money intended to help some of the state’s neediest residents. Unfortunately, nothing is in place to prevent this from happening again.”
The state House in June passed legislation that would prohibit private individuals from being converted into public employees simply because they receive part of their compensation from direct or indirect government subsidies intended to aid members of the public. The effect would be to prevent other private contractors from being forced into a public-employee union, as is the case with more than 40,000 Michigan home health care aides who have been improperly unionized, allowing $6 million annually to be skimmed from a program meant to aid developmentally disabled adults. Such legislation would also prevent similar schemes from being extended to doctors who accept Medicare, landlords whose tenants receive rent assistance and grocers who accept food stamps or bridge cards.
“Now that Gov. Snyder has signed a budget and accomplished several of his legislative priorities, it would be a good time to apply the same principled decision he made regarding home day care workers to those in the home health care business,” said Wright. “Doing so would restore fundamental fairness, honor the law and prevent further waste of taxpayer funds. These schemes were instigated by the previous administration; the injustice would be compounded if they’re allowed to continue in this one.”
Wright indicated that legal options for seeking reimbursement of the dues money illegally taken from day care providers are being considered. He added that he is monitoring a federal lawsuit brought by the National Right-to-Work Legal Defense Foundation on behalf of several Michigan clients seeking repayment of dues money.