Home health care policies ... over the Christmas holidays, the Federal Court struck down some of the proposed overtime rules and protections for home health employees and issued a 14-day stay on the ruling to analyze the plaintiffs’ arguments. The rules were highly opposed by many stakeholders and home health advocacy interest groups, while many caregiving employees found the rules to be long overdue. The rules were set to take effect January 1st, 2015.
In the case Home Care Association of America v. David Weil, the new overtime rules championed by the U.S. Department of Labor were overturned. The rules would have gone into effect beginning January 1st. Many trade associations in the home care industry were opposed to the proposed overtime rules by stating that they (the rules) would directly hurt the home care industry and drive up spending for an already financial strained Medicare system. This is all despite the fact that Medicare spending has shown to currently sit below the expected spending levels that were projected several years ago.
The plaintiffs, including Home Care Association of America, National Association for Home Care and Hospice, and the International Franchise Association for Home Care and Hospice challenged a rule that would prohibit the exemption of companionship services and live-in domestic services. With the rules being overturned, “Fellowship and protection” services provided by care workers will continued being denied overtime protections. Additionally, live-in service providers will also continue to be denied overtime protections with the court now blocking rule’s implementation.
A representative of the National Association for Home Care and Hospice stated that the rule would have affected 90% of care in regards to the court ruling.
“This is a victory for elderly and disabled persons who rely on home care,” said NAHC President Val Halamandaris. “This victory proves the value of industry unity. United, fighting on behalf of the elderly and disabled we cannot fail, divided, we cannot succeed.”
However, many health care employees do not share the same sentiments. Many advocacy groups claim that this ruling provides a clear example of the exploitation of home caregivers throughout the country. The Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI) is one such group that highly opposes the court’s actions in allowing the ruling to be delayed past its January 1st implementation date. A quote from the PHI blog states:
“As we previously stated after the December 22nd ruling, the Final Rule’s extension of minimum wage and overtime protections to most home care workers is the right policy—both for those employees, whose demanding work merits these fundamental wage guarantees, and for recipients of services who deserve a stable and professional workforce allowing them to remain in their homes and communities.” (phinational.org)
The temporary stay on the ruling will be in effect until January 15th to hear the remainder of the plaintiffs’ argument regarding “companionship services” and why they do not qualify for overtime pay. The Court will hold a hearing regarding a preliminary injunction on Friday, January 9th.