Even as it remains the number one job creator in the country, and even as more people demand home care services, a struggle continues regarding wages, employee protections, and even regulations within the industry. When the Department of Labor changed the rules to provide in-home caregivers the same minimum wage and overtime protections as most other workers in units dates, its purpose was to help protect these invaluable care providers.
At nearly the same time, Medicaid reimbursements were being cut at the federal level, which was directly impacting agencies and home care companies responsible for providing these very services to the elderly and disabled in communities across the country.
On top of that, the SEIU (Service Employees International Union) has been relentless in forcing their way into every corner of the home care industry, even infiltrating interpersonal relationships between aging parent and adult child care provider, for example. All of these have created a tsunami of economic challenges and financial struggles for compassionate, dedicated men and women who want to make a difference through home care.
Now, as CMS (the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) has implemented new rule changes (again), it is continuing to place an increasing burden on home care companies that may have unintended long-term consequences. According to the National Law Review article, Battle Wages on Over Home Care Workers’ Wage-and-Hour Exemptions: Court Defers to DOL, Narrows Exemptions for Live-In and Companionship Employees, written by Attorney Elizabeth Gotham:
“Nonetheless, home care agencies and other third-party employers of domestic workers will need to implement systems for tracking hours worked and calculating overtime pay for employees who are no longer exempt. Employees no longer exempt under the companionship exemption are now also entitled to the federal minimum wage, if not already protected under state minimum wage laws. Families of the elderly or infirm who, for tax or other reasons, employ home care workers through their own business entities such as LLCs may still qualify for the exemption if they can show that their business is owned by the recipient of the services or his or her family.”
For those who work within the home care sector, the most important thing for them is to ensure the safety and quality care of elderly and disabled and women who need support. Home care aides deserve their wages, and agencies deserve an opportunity to serve.
While certain Medicaid reimbursement cuts have led to innovation and a reliance on technology to fill in the gap, more pressures run the risk of driving dedicated individuals out of the industry, which will likely be detrimental for the aging Baby Boomer generation reaching retirement age now.
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