President Obama has supported a substantial increase in the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10. Based on a report released by the Congressional Budget Office in February 2014, raising the minimum wage would help get 900,000 people out of poverty but it could cost 500,000 jobs. Contrary to popular opinion, the bulk of minimum wage workers are mid- or full-time adult employees, not teenagers or part-timers. According to the Economic Policy Institute, an increase to $10.10 would either directly or indirectly raise the wages of 27.8 million workers and provide a modest boost to U.S. GDP. A report by the Center for Economic and policy Research points to small employment effects with modest increases in the minimum wage. Other economists and policymakers favor expanding the earned income tax credit over the minimum wage or the combination to support working low-income Americans. The economics of the living wage is complex and its health benefits could be summarized as followed:
Obesity - Melter and Chen using data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) from 1984– 2006 found that a $1 decrease in the real minimum wage is associated with a 0.06 increase in BM. The real minimum wage in the US has decreasedReal minimum wage decreases can explain 10 percent of the increase in BMI since 1970. Other researchers have also found that low wages increase obesity prevalence and body mass.
Mortality and health status – analysis of a proposed living wage ordinance in San Francisco by Bhatia and Katz demonstrated that a modest gain in income would be associated with substantial health benefits, improvement in educational attainment of workers’ children and decreased risk of premarital childbirth.
Access to health care - a study by McCarrier et al. examined associations between state-level minimum wage policies and respondent-level indicators of access to health care and showed that minimum wage policies do not adversely affect health care access. In fact, they found evidence that higher minimum wages are significantly associated with reduced odds of workers reporting cost-related barriers to needed medical care. Even with expansion of health insurance under ACA, high-deductible health plans could increase out of pocket cost for most Americans. There is also evidence that the benefit of providing health insurance for low-income workers is more cost effective than living wage increase.
UPMC currently faces challenges from Highmark, the City of Pittsburgh, and labor organizers. The following outline is an introduction to what are complex and intertwined legal, political, and economic issues.
UPMC versus Highmark
UPMC and Highmark are engaged in a multifaceted struggle over the health care market in southwestern Pennsylvania. The most contentious issue: will Highmark plan members continue to have access to UPMC services after the current contract ends on December 31, 2014?
City of Pittsburgh versus UPMC
During the Ravenstahl administration, the City of Pittsburgh sued UPMC to have its nonprofit status revoked. The city argues that UPMC is not acting as a charity. The closure of UPMC Braddock Hospital, investment in international services, and executives’ salaries are among the justifications of the allegations.
UPMC labor debates
SEIU has been attempting to organize workers at various UPMC sites. Make It Our UPMC is the coordinating body for this activity, which is not entirely separate from the city’s lawsuit.
Politicians Involved with Make It Our UPMC
UPMC Fair Hiring
Compiled and written by Collin Schenk (MS1 at UPSOM).
"I wish to do something Great and Wonderful, but I must start by doing the little things like they were Great and Wonderful"