Senators Johanns and Alexander and Rep. Walberg Lead Push to Suspend Department of Labor’s New Companionship Rule
Rule could dramatically increase home care costs to seniors and the disabled
October 1, 2014 10:32 AM
Senators Mike Johanns (R- NE) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Congressman Tim Walberg (R-MI) were the originators of a Dear Colleague letter that urges the Department of Labor (DOL) to suspend a rule that could dramatically increase costs of non-medical, in-home personal care services, many of which are administered through Medicaid or other state programs. The rule, which would make changes to a long-standing exemption for these personal care services, is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2015.
Numerous stakeholders have expressed concern that implementation of this sweeping new regulation could disrupt care for seniors and those with disabilities. NAHC and its membership have been urging lawmakers to pressure the Department of Labor to suspend its new companionship rule, and NAHC’s efforts have not gone unnoticed by Senate staff or the Department of Labor.
“At a time when approximately 76 million baby boomers are reaching retirement, the federal government has a compelling interest in containing the cost of long term services and supports and expanding the low-cost care options available to this aging demographic,” the Members wrote. “We are deeply troubled that this rule runs contradictory to those goals. Therefore, we urge you to suspend the rule and work with state agencies and other affected programs to prevent the cost of long term services and supports from soaring.
“We are committed to protecting care options that maintain the dignity and self-determination of seniors and individuals with disabilities and allow them to receive support in the comfort of their homes at lower costs.”
In addition to Johanns, Alexander and Walberg, the bicameral letter was signed by Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), John Boozman (R-AR), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Richard Burr (R-NC), John Cornyn (R-TX), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Jerry Moran (R-KS), David Vitter (R-LA), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Michael Enzi (R-WY), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Pat Roberts (R-KS). The Representatives that signed the letter were Lee Terry (R-NE), Todd Rokita (R-IN), Rick Crawford (R-AR), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Adrian Smith (R-NE) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE). Five of the Senators that added their name to the letter have addressed NAHC before – either during its March on Washington or during the Annual Meeting.
Senator Alexander is the Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education and Pensions Committee, which has jurisdiction over labor issues. Representatives that signed onto the letter serve on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee on Health, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and the House Education and the Workforce Committee which all have some jurisdiction over labor and employment policy.
To read the full letter that was sent to the Department of Labor, please click here.
To view previous coverage of this issue in NAHC Report, please click here.