The United States Supreme Court issued two landmark First Amendment rulings during the week, and the federal government approved a plan to protect rural hospitals.
U.S. Supreme Court issues historic rulings
On June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision about Janus v. AFSCME, a U.S. labor law case concerning the right of labor unions to collect fees from non-union members for the service of collective bargaining. The court held that forcing government employees who do not wish to join the union to pay “fair share” union dues violates the First Amendment, and states and public-sector unions may no longer extract fair share fees (agency fees) from non-consenting employees.
In its ruling, the court struck down Illinois law that requires government workers who choose not to join a union to “pay their proportionate share of the costs of the collective bargaining process, contract administration and pursuing matters affecting wages, hours and other conditions of employment.”
“Compelling individuals to mouth support for views they find objectionable violates that cardinal constitutional command, and in most contexts, any such effort would be universally condemned,” wrote Justice Samuel Alito, who authored the court’s opinion in the case.
This decision will likely have far-reaching consequences for public sector union membership in Illinois and throughout the country. In my opinion, this is a very positive step forward for the state of Illinois. It will begin to reduce the political power of the Madigan cabal that has had a very cozy relationship with the public sector unions. The “agreement” has been – raise wages and benefits and we will provide cash and workers for elections. Under this cozy relationship, politicians who go along with the scheme win and taxpayers lose.
I support the right of anyone to join a union. I do not support a union having the power to force an individual to join or pay tribute (“fair share”) in support of beliefs that may not fit with the individual’s own beliefs. It’s a new day in America. It’s a new day in Illinois. Thanks to the Governor and Mark Janus for having the courage to pursue this all the way to the Supreme Court!
In other action, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a California law that would have required crisis pregnancy centers to inform clients of the availability of state-provided abortions. The majority of justices ruled the law violated free speech rights of these faith-based facilities.
Plan protects safety-net and rural hospitals
Governor Bruce Rauner recently announced that the federal government has approved the state’s plan to protect safety-net and rural hospitals while ensuring continued federal support for quality healthcare to more than three million Illinoisans.
The plan was created with Senate Bill 1773, bipartisan legislation that Governor Rauner signed in March. It ensures the state will continue to receive federal matching funds to offer services for Medicaid beneficiaries through the Hospital Assessment Program, which brings in $3.5 billion annually. The new program takes effect July 1.
A bipartisan group of legislators worked with the Illinois Health and Hospital Association and the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services to redesign the program, create a more equitable reimbursement process, and ensure more efficient use of taxpayer dollars. Prior to the new program, the state used old data sets, which were sometimes based on care that was provided as far back as 2005, to reimburse hospitals for Medicaid services.
The new model applies updated data and also ensures that more of the reimbursements are based on actual services hospitals provide. It also dedicates more than $260 million to help hospitals transform their operations to better serve their communities, such as offering more urgent and outpatient care.