The Note: I Know I Messed It Up Before

"The National Governors Association offered sweeping bipartisan proposals on Wednesday to rein in the growth of Medicaid, saying states should be allowed to charge higher co-payments to beneficiaries and should be entitled to larger discounts from drug companies and pharmacies," reports the New York Times' Robert Pear. LINK

Per the Wall Street Journal's Sarah Leuck, who nicely salts her article with appropriate quotes from Govs. Huckabee and Warner:

"The governors' preliminary recommendations, unveiled at separate House and Senate hearings, aimed to reduce Medicaid spending in ways that won't harm the states. They also would increase states' ability to reconfigure their programs. The governors suggested tax breaks and credits to help people buy private long-term care insurance, as well as incentives for seniors to take reverse mortgages on their homes to pay more of their long-term-care costs."

"The governors made a pitch for broad flexibility to charge higher co-payments and to vary benefits packages in Medicaid. Current law limits co-payments to $3 in many cases. Governors want to increase that amount, though they said the poorest recipients shouldn't have to pay more than 5% of total family income and higher-income Medicaid patients shouldn't have to pay more than 7.5% of their income toward the program. Advocates for the poor say even minimal cost-sharing could discourage Medicaid recipients from getting needed care."

House of Labor:

Frustrated by their failure to reform the nation's labor federation from within, five unions representing a third of the AFL-CIO's members founded a rival group Wednesday and pledged to coordinate a sustained effort to recruit new workers .LINK

The presidents of two of those unions, the Service Employees International's Andrew Stern and the Food and Commercial Workers' Joe Hansen, strongly hinted they would withdraw from the AFL-CIO after the federation's July convention.

The new organization will be called the Change to Win Coalition. Its formation marks a turning point in a year-long campaign by Stern and the others to persuade other unions adopt to their reform proposals, which stress structural reform and organizing new workers over political action. In setting up this new coalition, these union leaders acknowledged that their effort failed.

Besides the SEIU and the UFCW, the other participating unions include the Teamsters; Unite-Here, which represents textile and food service workers; and the Laborers, an important construction union. Laborers' President Terry O'Sullivan said his union will remain in the AFL-CIO, but the Teamsters and Unite-Here may withdraw from the federation.

"This coalition is an historic occasion for working people. I hope and believe that it will spark a change in the labor movement that will change the face of America," said Unite-Here President Bruce Raynor.

These unions believe the AFL-CIO's own reform effort, which was endorsed by an executive committee on Monday, preserves the status quo and will do nothing to expand labor's size and clout. The unions plan to oppose AFL-CIO President John Sweeney when the labor federation votes on his re-election at its July convention.

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