NAHC Expresses Support for Legislation Restoring Companionship Services Definition
Bicameral Legislation Introduced in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives
November 5, 2015 10:00 AM
Bicameral legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives amending the Fair Labor Standards Act to restore the 40 year-old overtime exemptions that have successfully provided support for our nation’s most vulnerable and infirm individuals who seek to receive care in their own homes. The Ensuring Access to Affordable and Quality Home Care for Seniors and People with Disabilities Act (S. 2221 / H.R. 3860) was introduced last week by Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) with 12 original cosponsors in the Senate, and by Representative Tim Walberg (R-MI-7) with 6 original cosponsors in the House of Representatives.
In a letter to Senator Roberts and Congressman Walberg, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) expressed support for the legislation. “The recent regulatory changes in the definition and application of these longstanding FLSA exemptions have only served to erect needless barriers to home care and to increase costs to financially strapped state Medicaid programs,” NAHC stated. “At the same time, the dedicated and invaluable workers who provide this care have not seen any improvement in their overall wages as the funds necessary to cover overtime costs are simply not available from consumers and government health programs such as Medicaid.”
“While home care workers deserve fair and reasonable wages for their crucial services in keeping seniors and persons with disabilities safely at home with high quality care, the regulatory changes do not further that goal appropriately,” NAHC stated. “Your bill will provide the opportunity for all those involved in home care to design and implement effective changes that protect workers and our most vulnerable citizens at the same time.”
Congressman Walberg and Senator Roberts released statements explaining the importance of their legislation to reverse the DOL rules. “Millions of families depend on companionship services to meet their health care needs,” Congressman Walberg said. “Far reaching and costly regulations should not stand in the way of seniors and individuals with disabilities who are unable to care for themselves from receiving quality, affordable care in the comfort of their own homes.”
Senator Roberts added that the bill “allows those in need of companion care in the home to continue to arrange and pay for individualized care without getting tangled in burdensome and costly labor rules that were meant for other industries,” and that it preserves “the independence of the elderly and individuals with disabilities in need of affordable care” and protects “caregivers who want predictable employment arrangements.”
NAHC continues to pursue a multi-pronged effort to reverse or invalidate the DOL rules. In addition to pursuing a Supreme Court appeal in its lawsuit challenging the DOL rules, NAHC supports this legislation as another avenue for addressing the impact of the DOL rules in home care. However, the legislation has a limited chance of success in the immediate future given the veto power of President Obama who fully supports the DOL rules. Similar measures to defund the implementation of the rules are likely to face similar results. As a result, NAHC has vowed to take its lawsuit to the Supreme Court by appealing the decision of the appellate court.
The letter from NAHC thanking the members of Congress and expressing support for their legislation is available here.