The Department of Labor finally extended federal minimum wage protections to home health care workers -- the people who help our elderly and disabled citizens eat, drink, and bathe, but who have trouble making ends meet and staying off public assistance because they're just not paid enough. And yet word on the street is that the Department of Labor might delay that action for another 18 months past the current January 1, 2015 deadline. Why? Surprisingly, the objections come from state Medicaid directors, who may wind up paying for the change, but who don't have anything new to say about it -- "the potential impact on the continuity and quality of care for certain Medicaid enrollees, as well as state capacity to sustain the current scope and reach" blah blah blah. If I don't tolerate hostage situations from corporations, why would I tolerate it from our government? So the AFSCME helps you tell the Department of Labor to implement federal minimum wage protections for home health care workers on schedule, because justice has eluded them for 40 years already, and another year and a half will no doubt land more than a few of them in the poorhouse.
Meanwhile, Sen. Sanders (I-VT) has introduced S. 2422, the Restoring Veterans' Trust Act of 2014, which would do some of the same things his last veterans' benefits bill did. You remember, the one the Republicans filibustered because they couldn't get an anti-Iran amendment attached, or because it cost too much, or something? You don't remember? Well, as we discussed the other day, the "liberal" media didn't do a very thorough job covering it back in February. But S. 2422 would let the VA hire more doctors and nurses, lease 27 new health care facilities, and give scholarships and student debt forgiveness as an incentive to health care professionals who might want to work for the VA. One thing I haven't said enough about this whole thing: Republicans whining about the cost of taking care of veterans now may want to revisit the wisdom of invading Afganistan and Iraq and occupying those nations for years on end. They may also want to revisit the wisdom of trying to win wars (and occupations!) with too-small armies who get absolutely strung out from repeated tours of duty. Anyway, the Campaign for America's Future helps you tell Congress to support better health care for veterans.
Finally, Sens. Blumenthal (D-CT) and Graham (R-SC) have introduced S. 2364, the companion bill to H.R. 4361, the Sunshine in Litigation Act. Remember those bad ignition switches in GM cars that may have killed a dozen folks in the last decade? Well, we might never have found out about those, because GM put confidentiality agreements in all their settlements over the switches. And when any GM auto owner could have an ignition switch that winds up snuffing them out, and when "any GM owner" might include you or someone you love, then I think we would be compelled to agree that such knowledge is in the public interest. And it's not just ignition switches subject to these settlement agreements -- how about that hip implant, or side effect-laden drug, or defective toy? All covered by confidentiality agreements, and all things we need to know about. It's nice to see Lindsey Graham agrees -- no doubt the all-lawsuits-are-bad lobby is pressuring him to drop his co-sponsorship as we speak, but he's doing a good thing here, and we ought to encourage that. So Public Citizen helps you tell your Senators to support the Sunshine in Litigation Act.