Nearly 2 million home health care workers are set to receive overtime and minimum wage protections as a federal appeals court has upheld the Department of Labor’s Home Care Rule. While some in the disability community are outraged at the August 21 ruling, others have expressed relief.
The court’s decision will complicate attendant care for those who require more than 40 hours a week, as most agencies will cap their workers’ hours in order to avoid paying overtime, says Bruce Darling, Center for Disability Rights CEO. “Individuals with disabilities will need to hire multiple people … assuming they can find multiple people.”
Darling is frustrated with the Obama administration’s failure to fully ensure that people with disabilities get the care they need. “We’re calling on Health and Human Services to assure that states are paying out Medicaid rates that will be adequate money to pay the overtime,” he says. “It’s very clear to us that the result of these rules without additional Medicaid funding will be the institutionalization of people with disabilities.”
Rahnee Patrick, an advocate with Chicago ADAPT, supports the Court’s decision, as she considers the companionship exemption to be a discriminatory policy that has long overlooked the importance of in-home caregivers. “I’m pleased the decision is there because I think it brings value to work that people are doing in the home,” she says.
She has received personal assistance for years and says people with disabilities need access to care in the community. Making sure the feds cover the gap for paying overtime is important for advocates like Patrick as well as directors of provider agencies like Darling. “I’m going to be involved in making sure that reimbursement rates are available for people,“ says Patrick.