Rebecca Stewart,, 703-307-0165

Issued December 21, 2018

SEIU files complaint against HHS and CMS for failure to comply with FOIA request regarding CMS proposed rule targeting home care workers


Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018

WASHINGTON — Today, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) filed a complaint against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The complaint seeks to hold HHS and CMS accountable for compliance with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by SEIU member Alantris Muhammad, on behalf of all SEIU home care members across the country. 

Alantris is an Illinois home care worker who has chosen, like her fellow SEIU home care members, to join and contribute her wages to her union, SEIU Healthcare Illinois. On Oct. 12, 2018 Alantris requested information related to CMS’ proposed rule that aims to prohibit individual provider home care workers from paying union dues and benefit contributions from their paychecks. The FOIA request sought records related to any communications between CMS officials and billionaire-backed anti-worker groups who have been trying to silence working people for decades and are behind this latest attack on workers’ rights. As of today, HHS and CMS have failed to comply with SEIU’s FOIA request. SEIU is represented in its suit by non-partisan ethics watchdog American Oversight.

“I filed a FOIA request to try and understand the reason behind the proposed CMS rule on behalf of all home care workers,” said Alantris Muhammad, a member of the SEIU Healthcare Illinois. “Standing together in my union, we’ve been able to improve the quality of care we provide and improve the work we love. It makes no sense whatsoever that I am being told I cannot choose to support my union with the wages I earn.”

The proposed CMS rule – that is the subject of this FOIA request – targets home care workers and is designed to stop them from contributing their own wages to support their union in the same way that most union members do—including teachers, police officers and firefighters. It is a blatant attempt to undermine the ways in which union home care workers have improved the quality of home care jobs and the quality of home care services by negotiating better training, higher wages, and basic benefits like paid sick days. Ninety percent of home care workers are women – and a majority are women of color – and just as home care workers were denied the same minimum wage and overtime protections most Americans enjoyed for decades, CMS’s proposed rule is yet another thread in the systemic racism that pervades the home care industry. The proposal does nothing to improve the delivery of home care services, to address the factors that fuel the current workforce shortage in home care or to protect Medicaid funding—and the potential changes could endanger quality home care services for seniors and people with disabilities.


About the Service Employees International Union:

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is an organization of two million members united by the belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide and dedicated to improving the lives of workers and their families and creating a more just and humane society.

About American Oversight:

American Oversight is a non-partisan, nonprofit ethics watchdog and is the top Freedom of Information Act litigator investigating the Trump administration. Since its launch in March 2017, American Oversight has filed more than 50 public records lawsuits, uncovering and publishing tens of thousands of documents including senior officials’ calendars, emails, and expense records.

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