States That Fought Home Care Wage Rule May Cut Services

As advocates celebrate a recent federal ruling extending minimum wage and overtime protections to nearly 2 million home care workers, officials in some states have expressed concern over the regulations’ implications, including the threat of eliminating or limiting services.

Kansas was one of eight states that sought to block the Department of Labor’s rules that remove an exemption in federal minimum wage and overtime laws for home care workers employed by third-party agencies. The federal appeals court’s ruling late last week, however, requires that state Medicaid programs abide by the DOL’s rules, a move that could leave Kansas and other states strapped for cash or without home care service offerings, according to Wichita Public Radio.

State officials in Kansas claim the budget for their Medicaid program, KanCare, doesn’t account for the $12 million necessary to up home care workers’ wages, Wichita Public Radio reports. This could mean a reduction in services, primarily affecting elderly and disabled Kansans who need 24-hour care.

Meanwhile, 15 states already provide minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers, according to the DOL, and California officials prepared for the DOL’s rules, allocating about $270 million to cover overtime pay for the state’s In-Home Supportive Services employees.

The ruling could still be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court by the Home Care Association of America and the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), the two trade organizations that challenged the DOL’s rule change. Seeking Supreme Court is a possibility, but NAHC is “keeping all options open,” according to William A. Dombi, vice president for law at the association.

Written by Kourtney Liepelt