NAHC Vice Chair Lucy Andrews Emphasizes the Impact that the Companionship Rule will Have on Public Programs such as Medicare and Medicaid During Capitol Hill Testimony
December 9, 2013 11:01 AM
On November 20, Lucy Andrews, Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), testified before the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, in a hearing titled “Redefining Companion Care: Jeopardizing Access to Affordable Care for Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities.”
For previous NAHC Report coverage, please click here.
In her testimony, she expressed NAHC’s opposition to the new Department of Labor rule (The Rule) eliminating the companionship services exemption of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Rule essentially eliminates home care services from being exempt from requiring overtime compensation. To see the full text of the Rule, click here.
Ms. Andrews discussed that mandating overtime compensation in home care, based on past experiences, would cause:
Moderate to significant increases in care costs;
Restrictions in overtime hours to the detriment of the workers’ overall compensation;
Loss of service quality and continuity; and
Increased costs passed on to the patients and public programs, including Medicaid, which would in turn:
decrease service utilization;
increase unregulated “grey market” care purchases; and
increase institutional care utilization rather than absorbing and covering the higher cost of care.
Ms. Andrews also discussed how government programs like Medicaid are “not an endless source of funding” and that Medicaid expenditures are “taxing all state budgets” with “provider payment rates are going down rather than increasing as costs rise.” The decreasing Medicaid reimbursements, she said, would “force me to make some very hard decisions in order to continue care. I will either need to restrict their working hours or increase my charges to my clients.”
To see a link to the hearing’s webpage, including submitted testimonies and photos, click here.
Ms. Andrews concluded by stating that while NAHC primarily supports the rescinding of the recent final rule, it alternatively calls on the Administration and Congress to provide supplemental Medicaid payments for the overtime now required. Failure to do so will risk greater institutionalizations as a result of decreased quality of care.
The testimony delivered on behalf of NAHC echoed the National Council on Medicaid Home Care – a NAHC affiliate’s - position on the Rule. If unfunded, the Rule poses a threat to the financial viability of home care providers, and the provision of care to the nation’s most vulnerable. Home care providers are encouraged to keep abreast of Companionship Services FLSA Exemption developments on CMS’ website, and to contact the Council with any questions or concerns.