U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross (FL-15) and 12 other Members of the Florida delegation sent a bipartisan letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) expressing concern that new rules regarding overtime pay would have an adverse effect on home health care services. They are urging the OMB to extend the companion exemption until the Department of Labor conducts a more rigorous analysis on the adverse affect of eliminating the exemption.
The new rules would eliminate the exemption for companion care from minimum wage and overtime pay. This would increase costs for in-home care, which could: force patients into expensive nursing homes; decrease caregivers' pay by restricting the amount of hours allowed to work; hurt small, private duty businesses that will not be able to keep up with increasing cost; and disrupt continuity of care to seniors who will have to rotate multiple caregivers who are allowed to work limited hours.
"While in theory this is a good idea, the problem is that most of the people who are paying for the care won't be able afford the overtime wages," said Ross. "Enforcing this ill-suited regulation will result in disruptive care for those needing it, and less work and lower earnings for the caregivers. My colleagues and I want to ensure that at this time when people are struggling both physically and economically, that we stop all onerous regulations that keep them from thriving."
* The Members who also signed the letter include: Rep. Vern Buchanan; Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart; Rep. Jeff Miller; Rep. Patrick Murphy; Rep. Richard Nugent; Rep. Bill Posey; Rep. Trey Radel; Rep. Tom Rooney; Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen; Rep. Steve Southerland; Rep. Ted Yoho; and Rep. C.W. Bill Young.
* The DOL's justification for the proposed rulemaking was based on flawed information that did not take into account the primary sources that compensate for in-home care. Their economic analysis was based on Medicare data, but most in-home care services are covered by private, long-term care insurance and Medicaid state programs. Most states and insurance companies do not have the flexibility in their budgets to permit additional funding for overtime. Thus, patients will have to rotate caregivers or will receive less care along with a list of other consequences.
* Caregivers have been led to believe that this proposal will increase their income, when the more likely outcome is that they will earn less, due to their hours worked each week being limited to 40. Their ability to continue earning the same income will depend on their ability to find new work opportunities that happen to fit the specific hours that they no longer work for their principal client.
* If the DOL's proposal is issued in the form of final regulations, the lives of many Americans will be profoundly affected. The DOL's economic analysis offers no reliable estimate of what this impact will be.