United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) is pleased to hear that the Department of Labor will delay enforcement of the final rule they issued tightening the Fair Labor Standards Act last fall for six months. The final rule significantly narrowed the “companionship exemption” to give nationwide minimum wage and overtime protections for in-home, direct support caregivers.
At the time the rule was issued, UCP made a statement warning of the serious potential consequences people with disabilities and their families faced. Many services provided by caregivers are reimbursed by Medicaid – which, in many states, does not allow for overtime. In these cases, the options for people with disabilities living in the community would be limited and result in more individuals winding up in costly institutions. We urged Medicaid agencies to set reimbursement rates that would enable caregivers to continue to provide the critical support people with disabilities need to live at home.
“We expect at this point that the Department of Labor will assess the potential harm this may cause for people with disabilities and their families. We are hopeful that the manner and timing of the enforcement protects both caregivers and the families they are serving,” said Stephen Bennett, President and CEO of United Cerebral Palsy. “We want to see those caregivers fairly compensated for their work, but we don’t want that to come at the cost of someone else’s independence. We have come so far in helping individuals remain in their homes instead of being confined to institutions. It would be a shame if the unintended consequences of this rule unraveled that.”