Wednesday, January 7, 2015

DOL Companionship Rule Change Stopped!


By Stephanie Woodward
Yoshiko Dart with Stephanie Woodward
ADAPT is relieved to learn that the United States District Court for the District of Columbia has issued a temporary restraining order for the Department of Labor's companionship rule changes in the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The rule changes promulgated by the US Department of Labor created an unfunded mandate to pay attendants time-and-a-half for overtime hours which would result in the capping of attendant hours because the vast majority of state Medicaid programs do not cover the cost of the new DOL-mandated overtime.  Many attendants who work more than 40 hours per week will be forced to work for multiple agencies or leave the field to maintain their current income levels.  This mandate will also force people with disabilities into institutions; cause lapses in services that will result in harm, illness, and death to individuals with disabilities; and violate the civil rights of disabled people.

ADAPT has been working for years to address the unintended and serious consequences for attendants and attendant service users.  We have vigorously advocated that DOL delay the effective date of the rules by 18 months because most states had not had a full budget cycle in order to fund the changes, and some states hadn't even begun their budget process. 

Furthermore, ADAPT's position against the DOL rules has been based on the belief that states, which are currently reducing Medicaid funded services, would not allocate the needed Medicaid funding to pay the increased time and a half wages.  The result would harm people with significant disabilities and the workers who provide these needed services.

When DOL refused to delay the effective date, ADAPT decided to support the litigation of the Home Care Association of America, submitting an affidavit to the United States District Court Judge explaining the harm that people with disabilities and attendants will experience if the new rule is implemented.
ADAPT Activists in Little Rock

On January 9, 2015, the judge will rule on a preliminary injunction in this case. We hope that the judge will, again, rule in favor of the rights of people with disabilities so that our attendants can keep their jobs and we can remain safe, happy, and healthy in our homes in the New Year. We are committed to improving the wages and benefits of attendants and will continue our advocacy to do that without undercutting the freedom and rights of people with disabilities.

Stephanie Woodward, J.D.
Director of Advocacy
Center for Disability Rights, Inc.
497 State Street
Rochester, New York 14608
(585) 546-7510 (Voice)
(585) 546-5643 (Fax)