Alexander Praises Court Decision Overturning Labor Dept. In-Home Care Rule

Press release from the office of U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; January, 15, 2015:

Calls Latest Court Decision “More Good News for Nearly 240,000 Tennesseans Who’ve had Access to In-Home Care Threatened” by DoL Rule

WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 14 –U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) made the following statement on the federal district court decision today that overturned much of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) rule regarding the overtime exemption for companionship care, which had threatened to increase costs on many seniors and individuals with disabilities who rely on non-medical caregivers.

“Today’s court decision brings more good news for the nearly 240,000 Tennesseans who’ve had access to in-home care threatened by this misguided Labor Department rule, which had already proved so unworkable the agency that dreamed it up can’t even figure out how to enforce it,” Alexander said. “The department should abandon any further attempt to force this rule on the 12 million seniors and individuals with disabilities who rely on in-home care to live independently.”

Today a U.S. district court judge ruling overturned the portion of DOL’s companionship care rule that said if non-medical caregivers spend more than 20 percent of their time providing personal care or housekeeping services for their elderly or disabled client they must be paid overtime. This includes providing help with daily activities like eating, dressing, bathing, and light cleaning.  Last month, the same district judge ruled that DOL violated the Fair Labor Standards Act with another portion of this rule that excluded home-care workers employed by a third-party home-care company from the overtime exemption.

In October, DOL announced  it would not enforce the rule—set to take effect in this month—for the first six months of this year and will water-down enforcement for the following six months after that.

Last year, Alexander and Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) led a group of 23 Republicans in a letter to Labor Secretary Thomas Perez warning that state Medicaid programs have not been given adequate time or instruction on how to implement the rule. The senators also warned in their letter that the rule will “result in sudden increases in institutionalized care, which is often more costly and frequently covered by taxpayer dollars,” and rob caregivers of “valuable paid hours and much needed income.”

Alexander is chairman of the Senate labor committee.