Health Care Fights to Watch For in 2018

By Suzanne Potter California News Service

Some health experts are predicting the mother of all Medicaid and Medicare battles this year, as the Republicans take a run at cutting social service programs in order to reduce the deficit.

The GOP failed twice to repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2017, but succeeded in undermining Obamacare by stopping cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers and repealing the individual mandate to buy health insurance. Anthony Wright, executive director at Health Access California, said the ingredients are there for a showdown in 2018.

“The congressional leadership has made clear that they intend to pay for the tax cuts that they just passed by cutting major health care programs,” Wright said. ”They call it entitlement reform. What their budget indicates is a $1.5 trillion cut to Medicaid, Medicare and other vital health programs.”

The Congressional Budget Office said that the GOP tax reform bill will leave 13 million people uninsured and lead to at least a 10 percent rise in premiums. Currently, 74 million Americans are on Medicaid, and 55 million rely on Medicare.

Republican leaders have said entitlement reform is necessary to keep the programs solvent. ,Trump has repeatedly said that the ACA is in a death spiral. Wright noted that Trump’s policies continue to impose significant costs on patients.

“Between the repeal of the ACA mandate and the defunding of cost-sharing reductions, that introduces a lot of uncertainty, which causes premiums to go up,” he said. “It causes some insurers to withdraw from the market, leaving consumers with fewer choices and more expensive premiums.” Wright said he expects 10-20 states will see insurers leaving the individual market altogether in 2018.

USDL finds $1.6 mn in back wages due to garment employees

January 31, 2017 Fashion Network Investigations in Southern California by the US Department of Labor (USDL) have found $1.6 million in back wages and liquidated damages due to 1,377 garment industry employees in 2017. These amounts resulted from violations of Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) found in 94 per cent of 129 Wage and Hour Division investigations of garment factories in the region.

The department also assessed an additional $36,000 in civil money penalties associated with those investigations, USDL said in a news release.

“Many of the investigations disclosed employees paid well below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, with some receiving as little as $4.27 per hour. Investigators also found employers often failed to pay employees overtime at time-and-one-half of their regular rates of pay when they worked more than 40 hours in a week, as required by the FLSA,” the release said.

Department officials, however, continue to meet with retailers to encourage them to avoid non-compliant manufacturers and to buy only from suppliers that comply with federal labour laws.

“In addition to our outreach efforts in this industry, we continue our investigations in Southern California to ensure local garment employees receive their rightfully earned pay,” said Wage and Hour Division Regional Administrator Ruben Rosalez in San Francisco.

“Unfortunately, we continue to find wage violations at nine out of every 10 facilities we investigate. Manufacturers that fail to pay their employees minimum wage and overtime have a negative impact on the garment industry by unfairly undercutting their competition.”


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January 5, 2018  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.


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