Author Archives: afscme

Hundreds of hospitals punished for lax safety. Here’s how to see if yours is one

Source: Beth Mole, Ars Technica, March 1, 2019

Hospital group argues the penalties are misguided and calculated unfairly.

Medicare is cutting payments to 800 hospitals around the country for having relatively high rates of infections and injuries among their patients, according to an analysis by Kaiser Health News. That’s the highest number of penalties in the five years that the federal government has handed them out.

Penalized hospitals will see a one-percent cut to payments for Medicare patients discharged between October 2018 and September 2019. The penalties are the result of an annual assessment set up by the 2014 Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program, which was created under the Affordable Care Act. The program ranks all hospitals based on their rates of specific infections and in-hospital injuries. From there, Medicare penalizes the bottom quarter or subsection—the threshold varies from year to year based on the data. So far, 800 is the highest number penalized, seconded by 769 two years ago…..

Taxing Cannabis

Source: Carl Davis, Misha E. Hill, Richard Phillips, Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy, January 2019

From the introduction:
State policy toward cannabis is evolving rapidly. While much of the debate around legalization has rightly focused on potential health and criminal justice impacts, legalization also has revenue implications for state and local governments that choose to regulate and tax cannabis sales.

For decades, analysts interested in the tax revenue potential of legalizing cannabis had to use unreliable survey data and speculation regarding how a legal market might operate. But this is changing. This month marks the five-year anniversary of the first legal, taxable sale of recreational cannabis in modern U.S. history. In January 2014, recreational cannabis establishments in Colorado opened their doors to the public, followed soon thereafter by businesses in Washington State, Oregon, Alaska, Nevada, California, and most recently Massachusetts. These states’ experiences with a tax that did not exist just a few years ago are providing invaluable information to lawmakers across the country as they consider legalizing and taxing recreational cannabis sales.

This report describes the various options for structuring state and local taxes on cannabis and identifies approaches currently in use. It also undertakes an in-depth exploration of state cannabis tax revenue performance and offers a glimpse into what may lie ahead for these taxes.

Janus for the Rails and Air?

Source: Joe DeManuelle-Hall, Labor Notes, February 15, 2019

They did it to public workers. Next they want to do it to railroad and airline workers.

A right-wing policy think tank filed a Janus-style lawsuit against the Machinists on January 8, claiming that non-members shouldn’t be required to pay fees for union representation.

The plaintiffs are customer service agents at United Airlines. They’re covered by the Railway Labor Act, which governs unionization and collective bargaining for hundreds of thousands of union members who work for railways or airlines—from flight attendants to freight train engineers.

The effect of an anti-union decision in the case of Rizzo-Rupon could mirror what last summer’s Janus case did to the public sector.

Unions would still be required to represent everyone within a unionized workplace, but members could opt out of paying dues or fees. Railroads and airlines would effectively be “right to work.”

The Feedback Fallacy

Source: Marcus Buckingham, Ashley Goodall, Harvard Business Review, March/April 2019

For years, managers have been encouraged to praise and constructively criticize just about everything their employees do. But there are better ways to help employees thrive and excel. ….

…. To be clear, instruction—telling people what steps to follow or what factual knowledge they’re lacking—can be truly useful: That’s why we have checklists in airplane cockpits and, more recently, in operating rooms. …

….Underpinning the current conviction that feedback is an unalloyed good are three theories that we in the business world commonly accept as truths. The first is that other people are more aware than you are of your weaknesses, and that the best way to help you, therefore, is for them to show you what you cannot see for yourself. ….

…. The second belief is that the process of learning is like filling up an empty vessel: You lack certain abilities you need to acquire, so your colleagues should teach them to you. ….

….. And the third belief is that great performance is universal, analyzable, and describable, and that once defined, it can be transferred from one person to another, regardless of who each individual is. …..

…. But the occasions when the actions or knowledge necessary to minimally perform a job can be objectively defined in advance are rare and becoming rarer. What we mean by “feedback” is very different. Feedback is about telling people what we think of their performance and how they should do it better—whether they’re giving an effective presentation, leading a team, or creating a strategy. And on that, the research is clear: Telling people what we think of their performance doesn’t help them thrive and excel, and telling people how we think they should improve actually hinders learning. ….

…. What these three theories have in common is self-centeredness: They take our own expertise and what we are sure is our colleagues’ inexpertise as givens; they assume that my way is necessarily your way. But as it turns out, in extrapolating from what creates our own performance to what might create performance in others, we overreach. Research reveals that none of these theories is true. The more we depend on them, and the more technology we base on them, the less learning and productivity we will get from others. To understand why and to see the path to a more effective way of improving performance, let’s look more closely at each theory in turn. …..

Forced Arbitration Clauses in the #MeToo Era

Source: National Women’s Law Center, Fact Sheet, February 2019

People from all walks of life – from hotel housekeepers to famous actresses – are stepping forward to confront sexual harassment and violence. Yet too often, forced arbitration clauses buried in everyday contracts help companies cover up sexual harassment and violence. These forced arbitration clauses prevent survivors from fighting back. Forced arbitration clauses are buried in the fine print of many employment contracts and strip away our right to challenge wrongdoing in court. In private arbitration, companies often choose and pay the arbitrator. There is no judge, no jury, no public record, and no meaningful chance to appeal the arbitrator’s decision – even if the arbitrator gets the facts wrong or ignores the law.

‘Wage’, ‘Salary’ and ‘Remuneration’: A Genealogical Exploration of Juridical Terms and their Significance for the Employer’s Power to Make Deductions from Wages

Source: Zoe Adams, Industrial Law Journal, Volume 48, Issue 1, 21 February 2019
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The Supreme Court in Hartley v King Edwards VI College (2017) has confirmed that an employee who refuses to work in accordance with his contract forfeits his right to be paid for the duration of the breach. The decision extends to professional employees paid a periodical salary the principle established in Miles v Wakefield MDC (1987). The present article sheds new light on these decisions by situating them within a broader debate concerning the function of the wage and the proper relationship between work and payment. Drawing on insights from economic theory, and engaging in a genealogical analysis of legal concepts, the article shows how this debate has, over time, conditioned the use of concepts such as the ‘wage’, ‘the salary’ and ‘remuneration’ in legislation and case law concerning deductions. It shows that the legal concept of the ‘wage’ is closely related to the economic idea of the wage as the price of a commodity, while the legal concepts of ‘salary’ and ‘remuneration’ are more closely analogous to the economic idea of the wage as the cost of subsistence. The courts’ tendency to confuse these concepts, and to analyse the employer’s power to deduct as a right to withhold wages for non-performance of the contract, tells us much about the implicit assumptions underpinning cases, such as Miles and Hartley, and how they have shaped the path of the law.

“Mom, When They Look at Me, They See Dollar Signs” How rehab recruiters are luring recovering opioid addicts into a deadly cycle.

Source: Julia Lurie, Mother Jones, March/April 2019

….The addiction community has a name for what happened to Brianne. It’s called the “Florida shuffle,” a cycle wherein recovering users are wooed aggressively by rehabs and freelance “patient brokers” in an effort to fill beds and collect insurance money. The brokers, often current or former drug users, troll for customers on social media, at Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and on the streets of treatment hubs such as the Florida coast and Southern California’s “Rehab Riviera.” The rehabs themselves exist in a quasi-medical realm where evidence-based care is rare, licensed medical staffers are optional, conflicts of interest are rampant, and regulation is stunningly lax.

While experts say the practices described in this story are widespread, it is important to note that there are plenty of responsible treatment providers, and not all the facilities named engage in all the practices described. Recovery Villas, which was raided by Florida authorities last summer on suspicion of insurance fraud and is now under investigation by the state, did not respond to my questions. A Compass Detox spokesman said that paying clients for treatment and giving them drugs between rehab stints “is illegal and we don’t do that.” Compass obeys all relevant laws and regulations, he emphasized…..

Workism Is Making Americans Miserable

Source: Derek Thompson, The Atlantic, February 24, 2019

For the college-educated elite, work has morphed into a religious identity—promising identity, transcendence, and community, but failing to deliver.

…. The economists of the early 20th century did not foresee that work might evolve from a means of material production to a means of identity production. They failed to anticipate that, for the poor and middle class, work would remain a necessity; but for the college-educated elite, it would morph into a kind of religion, promising identity, transcendence, and community. Call it workism. ….