Recently, the Supreme Court decided it would not hear arguments on a case that challenged the Labor Department’s new rule change that went into effect this past year providing pay protections for home health care and other similar workers. The rule stays in place and while advocates for increased wages see this as a good sign, some industry leaders and agency owners worry about the long lasting repercussions it will continue to have for those who require assistance at home.
At the center of this case, Home Care Association of America, et al. v. Weil, was an issue about whether third party employers should have to pay minimum wages and overtime to more works. Most of these third party employers were home care agencies.
Some of the debate surrounding this rule change has centered on whether a person providing around the clock care as a live-in caregiver should be earning overtime pay. There are many facets to this case, but some industry leaders believe this new rule is only going to lead to more people in need being unable to have access to adequate in home care services.
According to the Modern Healthcare article, Supreme Court lets stand rule raising pay for home healthcare workers, written by Lisa Schencker:
“The industry argued the rule would raise the cost of care for patients, making care less attainable and destabilizing the industry. Employee advocates, however, say the rule, which only applies to workers employed by third parties such as agencies, would help workers and the industry in the long run.
Sarah Leberstein, with the National Employment Law Project, praised the decision Monday saying that “stabilizing worker income and improving standards will ease the tremendous burnout and turnover” that hurts the industry and patients.
William Dombi, a vice president at the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, one of the groups involved in the case, called Monday’s decision “disappointing” but he emphasized the efforts will continue to “protect the home care consumer who we think is the primary victim of all this.”
High stress, high turnover, and low wages make it difficult and retain quality workers, but forcing agencies to pay higher wages means increased costs, and that will likely mean patients in need will be restricted in the number of hours of support they can receive, or that some won’t be able to get any professional care at home.
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