Health Policy Links

The Commonwealth Fund

  • Four Bills Would Empower Workers & Protect Taxpayer Resources
    by Commonwealth Foundation on January 25, 2022 at 7:35 pm

    January 25, 2022, Harrisburg, Pa. — Four bills approved by the House Labor and Industry Committee Tuesday could soon bring several key public-sector labor reforms to a House vote. Lawmakers advanced these bills to align state law with U.S. Supreme Court precedent, secure public employees’ privacy, protect public resources from the corrupting influence of campaign politics, and increase transparency. Nathan Benefield, senior vice president of the Commonwealth Foundation, commented: “Pennsylvania should not have unconstitutional laws on its books. Nor should we use taxpayer-funded payroll systems to collect campaign cash. Correcting these problems will empower public employees and help ensure fairness in government. It’s encouraging to see House lawmakers moving to protect employees’ private data and shine the light of transparency on deals that cost taxpayers millions of dollars.” The four reforms now eligible for a full House vote: House Bill 844 (Rep. David Rowe) protects public workers’ Social Security numbers, home addresses, home and personal telephone numbers, and personal email addresses from being shared in the collective bargaining process House Bill 845 (Rep. David Rowe) requires government officials to publicize any collective bargaining agreement 14 days in advance of enactment, including a cost estimate, either by newspaper or website House Bill 2042 (Rep. Kate Klunk), known as employee rights notification, requires public employers to annually notify new or returning employees of their right to join a union, or to not join and not pay union dues or fees. HB 2042 also eliminates Pennsylvania’s unconstitutional “fair share fee” law. In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME outlawed compulsory union fees for non-union member public employees. But Pennsylvania law still authorizes deductions for these so-called “fair share fees” from public employees’ wages. Though this issue is being litigated by retired teacher Jane Ladley, HB 2042 would eliminate unconstitutional “fair share fee” practices by aligning state law with the Janus ruling. House Bill 2048 (Rep. Ryan Mackenzie), known as paycheck protection, prevents public employers from deducting political action committee (PAC) contributions from public employees’ wages using public payroll systems Government unions officials routinely use taxpayer-funded payroll systems to collect money earmarked for election politics. This unethical mixing of government resources and politics has been going on in unions including the PSEA, AFSCME, SEIU, and UFCW for decades. From 2007-2020, government unions spent $152 million on politics, including $67 million in PAC spending.   “It’s time to put power back into the hands of workers,” continued Benefield. “We encourage House lawmakers to pass these bills that end corruption, defend taxpayers, and restore workers’ rights.” Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment. Please contact John Bouder at 570-490-1042 or jrb@commonwealthfoundation.org to schedule an interview. # # # The Commonwealth Foundation transforms free-market ideas into public policies so all Pennsylvanians can flourish.

Kaiser Family Foundation

Health Affairs Podcast

  • Caitlin Hicks on Telemedicine and Care Inequities
    by Health Affairs on May 17, 2022 at 5:00 am

    When medical offices shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic and people were encouraged or required to avoid public spaces, there was a dramatic and rapid increase in the use of telemedicine.  Telemedicine has the potential to open up access to care, particularly to people who are geographically isolated or have mobility limitations, but it can also exacerbate existing inequities given its relevance upon broadband internet access and other technologies. Caitlin Hicks from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine joins A Health Podyssey to discuss whether telemedicine expands or narrows care inequities. Hicks and colleagues published a paper in the May 2022 issue of Health Affairs examining the impact of Medicare's pandemic-era telemedicine coverage waiver on utilization by geographic area. They found that Medicare's telemedicine access expansion increased utilization overall and that those beneficiaries in areas of greater depravation, as measured by the Area Depravation Index, had greater odds of utilization than those who live in areas with more resources. Order the May 2022 issue of Health Affairs for research on telemedicine, disparities, pharmaceuticals, and more. Subscribe: RSS | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Google Podcasts

Washington Post Health 202

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

14th & G Podcast

American Medical Association

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