Do you have any loved ones that require 24hr home healthcare? If legislators have their way the cost to provide services will definitely increase.
The Labor Department has proposed a rule that would allow home health care workers to receive the minimum wage and be protected by federal wage and hour laws. Congress is also considering at least three bills that would affect those workers. They include:
•HR 2341: Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif. Would eliminate wage-and-hour exemption for home health workers. Thirty-five co-sponsors: all Democrats.
•HR 3066: Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb. Would keep wage-and-hour exemption for home health workers. Fourteen co-sponsors: all Republicans.
•S 1273: Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa. Would eliminate wage-and-hour exemption for home health workers. Seven co-sponsors: six Democrats and one independent.
This proposal would overturn an exception to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act that was granted in 1974 to allow friends and family to offer in-home care without violating federal wage and hour regulations. With the growth of home health care companies, agency caregivers fall under this exemption. The legistlation S.1273, found here, introduces an amendment that redefines home care worker. The new terminology is:
any employee employed on a casual basis in domestic service employment to provide babysitting services or any employee employed on a casual basis in domestic service employment to provide companionship services for individuals who (because of age, infirmity, or disability) are unable to care for themselves.
Workers who do not have a live-in arrangement are already paid well above the minimum wage. Therefore, overturning the FLSA exemptions will most likely affect recipients of 24 hour care. The costs to recipients will increase as agencies meet the minimum wage and overtime requirements based on a 24hour period! As it currently stands, most rates already take this into consideration to make care affordable for clients. Agencies take this into consideration by allowing 8 hours of a non-productive time for caregivers to sleep. During this is time caregivers either do not get paid for, or are paid a lower rate. Essentially, this legislation will require them to get paid more as they sleep. In an effort to abate the impact felt by many home care companies, management will more than likely resort to eliminating the option of around the clock care to simply 8 hrs.
Proponents of the legislation indicate that there should be little concern. Majority of home healthcare workers put in approximately 31-34 hours per week; thus, eliminating the fear of having to pay overtime. Others indicate that the FLSA exemption enacted at the time did not apply to home care agencies because few existed, and it was not considered a profession. Now that is it, recipients of care should pay the minimum wage accordingly.
Proponents fail to realize that individuals requiring 24 hour care actually exist, and their cost will increase while their quality of healthcare will be significantly affected. Non-paid, familial, caregivers will have an increased responsibility for two households! This legislation will have detrimental effects on paid health caregivers as well. They will see their hours cut significantly. The industry already has a high turnover rate and this attrition of home healthcare worker will only increase as they leave jobs they are passionate about to find better paying jobs.
In the end, it is our loved ones who are going to end up paying more or end up moving into a nursing home–a place where they really do not want to be. The current infrastructure does not even support home healthcare care although the demand for it is obvious. Private pay care recipients utilize long-term care insurance and personal finances to pay for services. This is already hard enough on families. The tradition model of Long-term care facilities provides access to governmental programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. This legislation only works in favor of lobbyists and proponents of institutionalized care, who are sure to have a hand in this.
Plain and simple, it is an attack on your values and your desire to remain at home.