CMS' blanket guidance provides no pathway to creating teleworking opportunities for these essential workers and puts their lives at risk. Maximus, the company that CMS contracts with for these services, has already been forced to close call centers in
In the letter, the Representatives call for remote work policies to be laid out, full paid sick leave and robust workplace safety policies.
The letter was endorsed by the
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To: The Honorable
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
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
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.
1/ See https://www.hattiesburgamerican.com/story/news/local/2020/03/31/maximus-responds-hattiesburg-coronavirus-case/5094254002/ and https://www.wtvq.com/2020/03/30/maximus-closing-monday-employee-presumed-positive-covid-19/; https://maximus.com/employees#