USA Today: Home Care Wage Rules Forcing States’ Hands

A new wage rule passed under the Obama administration that promises to increase pay and working conditions for home care workers could result in higher Medicaid costs, reports USA Today via Stateline, a nonpartisan news service. 

The new rule, slated to go into effect come January 1, has been met with mixed response among home care providers, workers and advocates, some of whom say the increased costs will hurt both businesses and consumers. 

But it’s states that will need to rework the way they are designating Medicaid dollars, the report points out. 

“Many states have never considered Medicaid payments to be wages,  Sarah Leberstein, a staff attorney with the National Employment Law Project, told Stateline.

“It’s a new mindset. The states will have to shift their thinking and take another look at their reimbursement practices and guidelines with the new wage rules in mind,” she told the publication. 

The rule is expected to cost in the order of $6.8 million over 10 years, with states and businesses bearing the brunt of those costs with some saying there’s more to be done, and others stressing the undue harm the rule will ultimately have on workers, whose jobs could be at stake due to the added costs to employers. 

“In most cases, Medicaid pays home health care agencies to supply health care workers in the homes of beneficiaries who need long term care,” the article points out. “It is the agencies that set workers’ hourly rates and the terms of their labor, including overtime and travel time pay. Because of this, Medicaid agencies are usually unaware of direct workers’ wages.”

Read the full report at USA Today

Written by Elizabeth Ecker