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Truth Squad calls foul on pro-Proposal 4 ad


Who: Citizens for Affordable Quality Home Care, pro-Proposal 4 ballot group

What: TV/Web ad

Truth Squad call: Foul

Proposal 4,  which would amend the state constitution to create the Michigan Quality Home Care Council, and allow home health-care workers limited collective-bargaining rights.

As reported previously by MTS:

A recent Citizens Research Council memorandum on the proposal offers a comprehensive history of the issue, which dates to 2004, when the Granholm administration formed an interlocal agreement between the state’s Department of Community Health and the Tri-County Aging Consortium of Clinton, Eaton and Ingham counties. Thus was born the Michigan Quality Community Care Council, or MQC3, as it became known.

“The council was formed to maintain a registry of home health-care workers under the Home Help program, which serves Medicaid recipients. It also ran background checks on those workers, and provided some training for both workers and employers. Those in search of someone to provide such services could contact the council and receive a pre-vetted list of workers.

“The controversy came with the state’s stipulation that those workers, who are paid out of Medicaid or Medicare funds, are public employees, because the following year, the Service Employees International Union Healthcare Michigan was recognized as the bargaining unit and an election was held, certifying it as such (with only about 20 percent of 43,000 ballots returned). That allowed SEIU Healthcare Michigan to start collecting 2.75 percent of workers’ wages as dues, which CRC estimates at about $6 million annually.

“In 2011, under a new governor, the Legislature defunded the MQC3, and in 2012, it enacted Public Act 76, stripping these workers of their public-employee status and nullifying the union representation. The union sued, and a federal judge issued a temporary injunction in favor of the union until its contract expires in 2013.

“The aides registry still exists in a limited form due to the work of various councils on aging and some nonprofits. Criminal background checks continue under the provisions of MCQ3, explained Dohn Hoyle, executive director of the Arc Michigan, a disability rights advocacy group, and co-chair of the pro-Prop 4 campaign.

“Proposal 4 would create a new council and reinstate the old order, including the collective-bargaining rights.

“The pro-Prop 4 ballot group is Citizens for Affordable Quality Home Care. According to the most recent campaign finance statement (from July), it had raised about $1.89 million – almost all of it from something called  Home Care First Inc. of East Lansing. Home Care First does not have to report the sources of its revenue, however.

“The primary opposition group to Prop 4 is Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution. As of July, it had raised $340,000, with the bulk coming from the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and several other business organizations.”

Questionable statement: “One of the biggest struggles disabled veterans face is finding reliable home-care providers, so they can remain independent and in their own homes. But home-care workers make an average of only $8 an hour, so it’s hard to find someone dependable. Proposal 4 ensures higher wages, better training and a registry of home-care providers who have passed a criminal background check.”

Michael Harris, executive director of Michigan Paralyzed Veterans of America, delivers these lines from his wheelchair, over scenes of veterans in action as soldiers, and later as older and disabled men in need of home-care aides to facilitate their daily activities. As mentioned above, the Michigan Quality Home Care Council would reinstate the old order under the MQC3, restoring the registry to full strength and services, which would include training and background checks.

But would it “ensure higher wages” in a legislative environment that’s hostile to the SEIU? (The Legislature is the entity that sets pay rates for home-care aides, through the Department of Human Service.) While home-care aides have received raises under SEIU representation in recent years, there is nothing in the proposal that says they’d continue to receive them should Proposal 4 pass.

The possibility of higher wages and the word “ensure” do not match.

As to “better training,” the ballot prop makes no requirements for additional training, only opportunities.

The CRC analysis notes, “Providers are not required to avail themselves of the training opportunities; program participants are not required to select providers from the registry …”

Again, the possibility of more training and the word “ensure” do not match.

As for the criminal background checks, those, in fact, occur now, though advocates say the effort is limited by funding. In other words, a vote for Prop 4 is not a vote to start checks that have not existed; conversely, a vote against Prop 4 will not end criminal background checks.

Overall impression: Who doesn’t want seniors to be able to live independently? Who doesn’t want to help veterans? Those questions are the ones Prop 4 advocates want to place in voters’ minds for Nov. 6.

Foul or no foul: Foul. Proposal 4 does not ensure higher wages for home aides. It does not ensure better training. The claims simply exceed the language of the ballot prop. The ad also would leave voters with the impression that criminal background checks are not done now when they are.

The Center for Michigan (the parent company of Bridge Magazine and the Michigan Truth Squad) has been financially supported by a wide range of corporate and foundation supporters. We are grateful to all funders for helping us create and grow a new nonprofit journalism service for Michigan citizens. Those funders have absolutely no role in the editorial decisions of the Michigan Truth Squad or Bridge Magazine.

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