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Testimonials

In the various roles he has undertaken through the years, Val J. Halamandaris has been a singular driving force behind the policy and program initiatives resulting in the recognition of home health care as a viable alternative to institutionalization. His dedication to consumer advocacy, which enhances the quality of life and dignity of those receiving home health care, merits VNA HealthCare Group’s highest recognition and deepest respect. 

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VNA HealthCare Group

I have the highest respect for them, especially for the nurses, aides and therapists, who devote their lives to caring for people with disabilities, the infirm and dying Americans.  There are few more noble professions.

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President Barack Obama

Home health care agencies do such a wonderful job in this country helping people to be able to remain at home and allowing them to receive services

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U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) Chair, Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee

Home care is a combination of compassion and efficiency.  It is less expensive than institutional care...but at the same time it is a more caring, human, intimate experience, and therefore it has a greater human element...it’s a big mistake not to try to maximize it and find ways to give people the home care option over either nursing homes, hospitals or other institutions

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Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich (R-GA)

Medicaid covers long-term care, but only for low-income families.  And Medicare only pays for care that is connected to a hospital discharge....our health care system must cover these vital services...[and] we should promote home-based care, which most people prefer, instead of the institutional care that we emphasize now.

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Former U.S. Senator Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-CD)

We need incentives to...keep people in home health care settings...It’s dramatically less expensive than long term care.

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U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ)

 

Home care is clearly the wave of the future. It’s clearly where patients want to be cared for. I come from an ethnic family and when a member of our family is severely ill, we would never consider taking them to get institutional care. That’s true of many families for both cultural and financial reasons. If patients have a choice of where they want to be cared for, where it’s done the right way, they choose home.

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Donna Shalala, former Secretary of Health and Human Services

A couple of years ago, I spent a little bit of time with the National Association for Home Care & Hospice and its president, Val J. Halamandaris, and I was just blown away. What impressed me so much was that they talked about what they do as opposed to just the strategies of how to deal with Washington or Sacramento or Albany or whatever the case may be. Val is a fanatic about care, and it comes through in every way known to mankind. It comes through in the speakers he invites to their events; it comes through in all the stuff he shares.

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Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence

Val’s home care organization brings thousands of caregivers together into a dynamic organization that provides them with valuable resources and tools to be even better in their important work. He helps them build self-esteem, which leads to self-motivation.

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Mike Vance, former Dean of Disney and author of Think Out of the Box

Val is one of the greatest advocates for seniors in America. He goes beyond the call of duty every time.

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Arthur S. Flemming, former Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare

Val has brought the problems, the challenges, and the opportunities out in the open for everyone to look at. He is a visionary pointing the direction for us. 

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Margaret (Peg) Cushman, Professor of Nursing and former President of the Visiting Nurses Association

Although Val has chosen to stay in the background, he deserves much of the credit for what was accomplished both at the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, where he was closely associated with me and at the House Select Committee on Aging, where he was Congressman Claude Pepper’s senior counsel and closest advisor. He put together more hearings on the subject of aging, wrote more reports, drafted more bills, and had more influence on the direction of events than anyone before him or since.

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Frank E. Moss, former U.S. Senator

Val’s most important contribution is pulling together all elements of home health care and being able to organize and energize the people involved in the industry.

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Frank E. Moss, former U.S. Senator

Anyone working on health care issues in Congress knows the name Val J. Halamandaris.

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Kathleen Gardner Cravedi, former Staff Director of the House Select Committee on Aging

Without your untiring support and active participation, the voices of people advocating meaningful and compassionate health care reform may not have been heard by national leaders.

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Michael Sullivan, Former Executive Director, Indiana Association for Home Care

All of us have been members of many organizations and NAHC is simply the best there is. NAHC aspires to excellence in every respect; its staff has been repeatedly honored as the best in Washington; the organization lives by the highest values and has demonstrated a passionate interest in the well-being of patients and providers.

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Elaine Stephens, Director of Home Care of Steward Home Care/Steward Health Systems and former NAHC C

Home care increasingly is one of the basic building blocks in the developing system of long-term care.  On both economic and recuperative bases, home health care will continue to grow as an essential service for individuals, for families and for the community as a whole.

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Former U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME)

NCOA is excited to be part of this great event and honored to have such influential award winners in the field of aging.

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National Council of Aging

Health care at home…is something we need more of, not less of.  Let us make a commitment to preventive and long-term care.  Let us encourage home care as an alternative to nursing homes and give folks a little help to have their parents there.

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Former President Bill Clinton

NAHC Files for Summary Judgment in Companionship Services Rule Lawsuit

On August 1, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, along with co-plaintiffs Home Care Association of America and the International Franchise Association, filed a Memorandum in Support of Motion for Expedited Partial Summary Judgment (the Motion) in the lawsuit challenging new overtime pay rules.

The lawsuit aims to overturn the new Department of Labor rules restricting the application of the companionship services and live-in exemptions to minimum wage and overtime compensation requirements.

Specifically, the Motion seeks to set aside the third-party employer restrictions of the Rule that effectively eliminate the application of the exemptions to home care companies. The lawsuit is an effort to secure an injunction against the enforcement of the new rules before they are scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2015.

New Rule Misapplies Third Party Status

The Motion argues that the Department of Labor (DOL) exceeded its statutory authority by stating in the new Rule that “third party employers of employees engaged in companionship services may not avail themselves of the minimum wage and overtime exception even if the employee is jointly employed by the individual or member of the family or household using the services.” The Motion argues that the new Rule “imposed an unauthorized minimum wage and overtime requirement on employers (and joint employers) solely on the basis of their ‘third party’ status.”

For details, see page 6, here.

In a 2007 lawsuit brought by NAHC, the US Supreme Court held that the Department of Labor had the power to apply the companionship services exemption to employees of third party employers rather than limit its application to workers employed directly by the client. In Long Island Care at Home v Coke, the Department of Labor actually argued that it was not only permitted to do so, but that the law passed by Congress required it.

The Motion asserts that the Coke opinion re-affirmed the DOL’s authority to only fill “gaps” in the definition of statutory terms like “domestic service employment” and “companionship services,” not to “explicitly affirm [its’ authority to address the issue of third party employment in the domestic service context.”

For details, see pages 15-16, here.

The Motion cites ample statutory and regulatory precedent for keeping third party employers of employees engaged in companionship services and live-in domestic services within the exception. In the Motion, NAHC argues that the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has long exempted those “employed in domestic service employment to provide companionship services.” Furthermore, the Department of Labor had issued regulations, and rejected changes otherwise, that exempted third party employees for four decades leading up to the new Rule. The Supreme Court upheld the current regulations in 2007.

For details, see pages 4-5, here.

New Rule Violates Plain Language of FLSA

In short, the Motion argued that the DOL exceeded its authority in promulgating the new Rule, as it conflicts with the plain language in the FLSA. Specifically, the Motion states that the DOL lacked statutory authority “to deny employers the right to ‘avail themselves’” of applicable overtime exemptions. The Motion states that employers overtime obligations are “unequivocally nullified” with regard to “any employee” mentioned in the exemption provisions. Therefore, no category of employer can be required to pay overtime to employees that fall within these provisions as the exemption applies to “any employee.”

The relevant exemption provisions are: “any employee employed in domestic service employment to provide companionship services for individuals who (because of age or infirmity) are unable to care for themselves” and “any employee who is employed in domestic service in a household and who resides in such household.”

For details, see pages 11-12, here.

New Rule Violates Legislative Intent of FLSA

Further, the Motion argues that the Rule violates the legislative intent of the FLSA. Despite limiting the scope of other exemption provisions, Congress chose not to limit the scope of the relevant exemptions described above in order to “keep such services affordable for the families of the elderly and disabled.” The Motion cited statements in the Congressional Record to that effect.

For details, see page 14, here.

In the Motion, plaintiffs explain that the Department of Labor itself recognizes that requiring third party employers to pay overtime to companionship employees, would effect as much as 98% of current workers providing personal care services to the elderly and disabled, thereby increasing cost of care and disrupting the provision of these services. The Department advanced that information as part of its “friend of the court” brief submitted to the Supreme Court the Coke case.

NAHC also maintains that the Rule does not provide proper justification for reversing previous statutory and regulatory precedent of the exemptions. While the Department alleges that changes in the home care industry warrant the change in a policy that is nearly 40 years, the Motion points out that the industry is not much different than when the Department defended the current rule in 2007. More importantly, the needs of the elderly and disabled for economical personal care support is the same today as it was in 1975 when the original rule came out. The “employees” provide the same services to the same vulnerable population.

For details, see pages 17-21, here.

Conclusion

The Motion states that the Rule will be “deeply destabilizing” for home care. As mentioned both in the Motion and in a previous article, the Rule will create access issues to both personal care services, and home care workers. The rule change will reduce consumer’s care options, increase their costs, and limit the availability of essential caregivers. Workers will be relegated to part-time work even where they prefer full-time employment. 

The issues presented in this lawsuit are very significant to all stakeholders: clients, workers, home care companies, and payers like Medicaid. If NAHC is successful with this phase of the lawsuit, the court will move on to the restrictive definition of “companionship services” in the new rule.

It can, however, be expected that plaintiffs’ success will mean an appeal by the government.

NAHC and its affiliate the National Council on Medicaid Home Care will keep its members informed on the developments of the lawsuit. 

 

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