12 States Urge Supreme Court to Overturn DOL Rule

The attorneys general from Kansas and 11 other states have requested that the U.S. Supreme Court review a lower court’s decision to effectively extend minimum wage and overtime protections to approximately 2 million home care workers across the country, arguing that the ruling threatens residents’ access to in-home care.

In August, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit restored the Department of Labor’s rule guaranteeing overtime and minimum wage protections. The decision came after a legal battle spanning more than two years, after provider groups, including the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, challenged the DOL’s move. Now, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and other state officials issued a court briefing asking the high court to reconsider the appellate court’s decision and recommending that home care workers remain exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Schmidt was joined on the brief by the attorneys general of Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming, according to a news release.

“We believe the appeals court erred in upholding these rules and are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case,” Schmidt said in a prepared statement.

To date, both the state and federal governments have invested some $20 million to cover services in Kansas, including its “sleep cycle overnight support” service, and home health programs haven’t yet been cut as a result of the DOL rule. But Schmidt said he fears the financial burden inevitably associated with keeping them up and running, given that nearly 25,000 residents rely on Medicaid-funded programming for the care they need to live independently, and expenses for Kansas and other states are likely to increase.

“It was and remains unreasonable to believe that Congress—silently and without consideration—delegated to the Department the ability to impose upon the States an unfunded liability for overtime obligations in the Medicaid programs,” the brief states. “To the contrary, Congress treated home care workers for the aged and infirm differently precisely because the public monies primarily fund the wages of such workers…The Department’s actions must be evaluated in light of their broad impact upon the States and the very citizens Congress intended to assist and support with the exemption.”

The U.S. Supreme Court in September denied the industry’s application for a stay of the appellate court decision, triggering a non-enforcement period that began Oct. 13. Enforcement of the DOL rule officially began in November, with full enforcement slated to begin in 2016.

Written by Kourtney Liepelt