DearColleague.us

Letter

Mark Pocan

From the office of:

Mark Pocan

Sending Office: Honorable Mark Pocan
Sent By:
Andrew.O’Neill@mail.house.gov

Deadline: COB Wednesday 4/8

Dear Colleague,

Join us in calling on the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to reverse their recent guidance on call center operations during the public health crisis that risks the health and safety of workers on the front lines of ensuring health coverage
for millions of Americans.

The call center company Maximus contracts with CMS to provide call center services for Medicare, Medicaid, and the federal Affordable Care Act marketplace. The services provided by Maximus employees are undoubtedly essential during this time. However, CMS
issued notice to state and local governments covering 11 Maximus locations that call centers must operate with employees present and not via telework. While CMS argues this is necessary because there is not infrastructure for teleworking, they do not lay out
any plans for setting up telework or make other attempts to protect call center workers. Call center workers should not be needlessly exposed to COVID-19, risking their own health and the health of their families and communities.

The letter calls on CMS to alter this guidance to instead adopt a policy for all contractors that includes:

  • Remote work policies for every worker possible;
  • Full access to paid sick leave for all workers and a waiver of penalties for use of that sick leave;
  • Assurance that workers who miss work due to illness, illness of a family member, or closure of a school or child care center will not lose their jobs due to attendance;
  • Assessments of increased staffing needs due to necessary worker safety and leave policies;
  • Robust workplace safety policies, including social distancing, thorough cleaning of work spaces, and proper protective and sanitation equipment to protect any workers who must come to work in person.

We hope that you will join us in urging CMS to put in place these lifesaving policies and protect these essential workers. Please contact Andrew O’Neill (andrew.oneill@mail.house.gov) with Rep. Mark Pocan, or Syd Terry (syd.terry@mail.house.gov) with Rep.
Jan Schakowsky with any questions or to sign on.

Sincerely,

 

Mark Pocan                                         Jan Schakowsky

Member of Congress                          Member of Congress

 

April XX, 2020

 

The Honorable Seema Verma

Administrator

Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Department of Health and Human Services

200 Independence Avenue SW

Washington, DC 20201

 

Dear Administrator Verma:

In the midst of one of the worst pandemics in modern history, we are writing out of concern regarding a notice that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued to state and local government officials on March 21, 2020, that could put the lives
of American workers in grave danger.

The CMS notice titled “Responding to the Coronavirus: Essential Mission Infrastructure Support – Health Care Services Delivery Support – Medicare & Medicaid – ACTION” urges state and local governments to continue in-person call center operations operated
via a federal contract by Maximus at 11 locations in the wake of a growing global health crisis. The notice insists that call centers remain open because “there is currently no infrastructure in place for the call center to run via telework in any location.”
It is troubling that, despite universal uncertainty over how long this crisis will last, CMS does not outline a process for creating that telework infrastructure.

While we recognize that call center operations are crucial to the well-being of millions of Americans, it is concerning that CMS is pursuing the status quo without considering the well-being of workers or the sustainability of a policies that risk their
health. Maximus has already been forced to close call centers in Kentucky, Mississippi, and Louisiana due to COVID-19 outbreaks at the centers in these states.[1] Thousands of workers are now at risk of contracting
the virus and continuing to spread it in their communities. This risk is especially worrisome given the key services that these workers are providing by ensuring the public’s access to health care coverage in the midst of a pandemic.

We ask you to promptly alter this guidance and instead adopt a policy for all contractors that includes the following:

  • Remote work policies for every worker possible;
  • Full access to paid sick leave for all workers and a waiver of penalties for use of that sick leave;
  • Assurance that workers who miss work due to illness, illness of a family member, or closure of a school or child care center will not lose their jobs due to attendance;
  • Assessments of increased staffing needs due to necessary worker safety and leave policies;
  • Robust workplace safety policies, including social distancing, thorough cleaning of work spaces, and proper protective and sanitation equipment to protect any workers who must come to work in person.

Thank you in advance for your quick attention to this issue.

Sincerely,

 

­­­­_________________________                                                          _________________________

Mark Pocan                                                                                         Jan Schakowsky

Member of Congress                                                                          Member of Congress

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information: Government, HealthCare, Labor

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