Following the announcement Tuesday of a new rule that would grant minimum wage and overtime protections to the nation’s two million home care workers, AARP has weighed in on the topic by expressing its support.
“AARP has long advocated for increasing access to home and community-based services for older adults and persons with disabilities,” said AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond in a statement. “We believe that improving minimum wage and overtime protections for most home care workers will help recruit and retain a sufficient home care workforce for the future.”
While AARP recognizes the critical roles home care workers play in enabling seniors and Americans living with disabilities to age in place within the comforts of home, the organization says it will focus on the impact the new companionship exemption rule will have on those receiving in-home care services.
“As we review the final rule and its implementation, AARP’s primary focus will be whether and how the rule works for individuals and families,” said LeaMond. “We are committed to making sure they have the information and resources necessary for their loved ones to get the care they need and deserve.”
Home health industry trade groups, however, have argued that the rule, which repeals the companionship exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act, will have an adverse effect as it helps neither patients nor caregivers.
“Like many things that emanate from Washington, the repeal of the companionship exemption is not what it seems,” said Andrea L. Devoti, chairman of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC). “While ostensibly intended to help hard working caregivers, it will have the very opposite effect.”
The rule might even lead to individuals receiving less care, notes NAHC, as home care companies will have little choice but to employ workers part time rather than full time, as Medicaid payment rates will make it more difficult for agencies to afford higher costs associated with the wage and overtime requirements.
“Today, more and more care is delivered in the home setting. These laws need to be re-evaluated by Congress in total rather than in piecemeal fashion,” Devoti said. “The central focus of this review should always be what is best for the people needing care.”
Written by Jason Oliva