Alexander to Labor Secretary on Proposed Overtime Rule: “You’re Talking About Raising the Cost of In-Home Companion Care to People That Can’t Really Afford It and Putting People Out of Work”

Says proposed rule to effectively eliminate current regulations that exempt “companionship services” and “live-in domestic services” from overtime requirements was created without evaluating the full impact on seniors, jobs and businesses or consulting “a single state’s Medicaid director”

Posted on March 14, 2012

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), in a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies, asked U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis why a more thorough economic analysis wasn’t made before proposing a rule that would essentially eliminate current regulations that have exempted companionship services and live-in domestic services from overtime requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act since 1975.

Alexander said that, as a result of the proposed rule, “seniors in America would have less care because it would be more expensive, there would be fewer jobs for those helping seniors, and it would likely force a large number who are now cared for in homes into more expensive institutional settings, which would drive up health care costs in states, which are already struggling with health care costs and are about to be hit with the additional costs that come with the Medicare mandates in the new health care law. I’m concerned that the department hasn’t sufficiently evaluated the impact of the rule on seniors who need care, on people who want jobs, and on Medicaid costs in states.”

Alexander pressed Secretary Solis on whether she or her staff had consulted “a single state Medicaid director when developing the rule,” since “Medicaid is 24 percent of state budgets, on average.” Ultimately, Secretary Solis told Alexander that she didn’t know “off-hand,” but that she would, as Alexander put it, “consult with Medicaid directors about the effect of the proposed rule.”  The full exchange can be watched HERE.

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