BusinessWeek: Wage Debate Continues for Home Health Workers

The debate over minimum wage in the home health care industry continues, as the most recent critics prove to be an unlikely group to criticize the movement: disability rights advocates, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports

The article follows the Department of Labor’s decision earlier this month to delay enforcement of its new rule extending minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers. 

But critics of the new rule include Ari Ne’eman, a White House appointee to the National Council on Disability, who argues that raising wages for home care workers without increasing the amount of government money available to pay for them will cut the number of hours disabled and elderly people spend with aides. 

“In the absence of an increase in Medicaid funding to cover those costs, we are going to see people with disabilities have our services reduced in quantity and quality,” says Ne’eman, who is president of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network.

Several groups, including the Center for Disability Rights and the grass-roots organization Adapt, joined Senate Republicans in urging the Labor Department to suspend the new pay rule.

“We support the right of workers to be paid fair wages,” says Bruce Darling, an organizer with Adapt, which held a protest outside the home of Labor Secretary Tom Perez. “To pay those wages, people with disabilities are going to lose their freedom.”

Still, groups like the American Association of People With Disabilities say the pay increases are crucial for attracting reliable workers.

Yet cutting care to raise pay is “just as unfair as workers being paid less than the minimum wage,” says Seth Harris, who served as acting Labor secretary in 2013. “The better choice is for legislatures to provide the amount of money that is required to provide all the care that people with disabilities and seniors need.” 

Read the full Bloomberg article here

Written by Emily Study

Emily Study