Despite a Supreme Court decision banning their behavior, unions in 11 states continue to engage in one of the most predatory practices they have ever conceived. In a process known as dues skimming, some states allow union bosses to automatically confiscate funds from Medicaid checks intended for patients whose primary caregiver is a direct family member, often without the patient or caregiver even being aware that they are losing money.
While in theory, these dues are designed to represent caregivers who are employees of the state, they are certainly not being spent in collective bargaining agreements for people who care for their elderly parents or in legal fees defending caregivers in lawsuits brought by their dependent children. Instead, this process merely takes funds from needy patients on Medicaid and redirects it to union bosses, who, in turn, spend tens of millions of dollars in campaign contributions every election cycle in order to maintain their power.
Not only is siphoning money out of support checks without telling people and against their will morally wrong, but at a cost of $200 million per year, it also contributes to rising healthcare costs while imposing a significant financial burden on those least able to afford it.
Fortunately, federal legislation to prevent dues skimming is expected to go before the House in the coming weeks, and it will have a strong advocate in its lead sponsor, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who chairs the House Republican Conference. Her proposal would refrain from making structural changes to Medicaid, while closing the loophole of classifying familial caregivers as state employees to force them to pay union dues.
In the House, McMorris has the support of Speaker Paul Ryan, to pass this crucial legislation, but it may hit a roadblock in the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already stated that he does not expect to have enough Democratic votes to pass this measure, and particularly in an election year, getting Democrats to vote on a measure that would take power away from unions seems far-fetched at best. But if Republicans are able to strengthen their majority, or at least maintain control of Congress in the midterm elections, then perhaps they will finally be able to overcome partisanship to truly help Americans in need.