WASHINGTON – Several home care industry groups recently lost their bid to have an appeal of new rules that provide minimum wage and overtime pay privileges to home health care workers heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, resulting in potential rising care costs and unhappy providers.

The rules were approved by the Department of Labor in 2013. The home care industry groups took their concerns to the Supreme Court after a federal appeals court overturned a 2015 ruling that did away with the rules. The rules have been in effect since 2015, as the appeals court’s decision was never stayed. The Supreme Court rejected the case in June.

In Florida, home care providers historically did not receive overtime, even if they worked more than 40 hours in a week. The new rules provide protections for home care professionals to compensate them for overtime and time spent traveling between clients. According to salary.com, the salary for Florida home care aide I positions ranged from $20,804 to $22,431 as of June 24. In February 2015, the median hourly pay for personal care aides in Florida was $9.61 per hour, while home health aides in the state made $10.04 and nursing assistants earned $11.13, according to a report from the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute.

Before the new rules took effect, home care workers that were employed by staffing agencies were not covered under federal overtime pay and minimum wage rules.

Phil Bongiorno, executive director of the Home Care Association of America (HCOA), said the rules could affect care, and clients could be asked to pay more.

“You may see a raise in rates, because our costs are going up,” Bongiorno told the Florida Record. “A lot of providers will have to raise costs…at the cost of clients leaving or (perhaps finding) substandard care.”

Bongiorno said some workers are not happy, as providers are looking for ways to avoid overtime. This means the workers are not going to be getting the hours and pay they were before the rules took effect.

“There are a lot of unintended consequences, supposedly for the benefit of home care workers,” Bongiorno said.

Bongiorno said HCOA is advising its members to comply with the new rules, and the members are doing so. In addition, HCOA is working with the Department of Labor to educate its members as well as to educate the public about how the changes may affect the costs of their care.

Bongiorno said the rules and rising costs could lead to one client having two or three different home care workers coming in. He said this would be less than ideal for many clients, particularly dementia or Alzheimer’s patients who may not adapt well to changes in their routines.

“There are some challenges with complying with the rule,” Bongiorno said. “The basis of all of this is to try to keep this type of care affordable.”

A survey completed by Home Care Pulse, in conjunction with HCOA, revealed that 32.2 percent of the 444 U.S. home care providers polled in November 2015 felt that removal of the companionship exemption had a negative impact, and 29.8 percent believed the removal of the exemption had a highly negative impact.

A total of 67.8 percent of respondents said they cut caregiver hours to avoid overtime in a November 2015 survey, compared to 44.85 percent in a February 2015 poll. Also, 55.5 percent said in November 2015 that they rescheduled cases to avoid paying overtime, compared with 40.1 percent in February 2015, before the new rules took effect. A total of 19.2 percent of those surveyed in November 2015 said they were “sharing caregivers” with competitors to make sure everyone gets the hours they need, up from zero percent in February 2015.

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