Those awaiting the Obama administration's decision on whether to guarantee home-care workers at least the federal minimum wage and overtime pay could be in for a long summer.
The Office of Management and Budget's 90-day window to review a final rule on the matter passed without action on April 15. It has been more than a year since President Barack Obama announced he would work toward ensuring workers in the $84 billion-a-year home-care business would receive minimum wage and overtime protections.
The policy dates back to 1938, and home-care worker advocates argue the law didn't account for the growth of the industry. Home-care jobs are increasing at a faster rate than any other industry within the healthcare sector, according to Labor Department figures, adding nearly 6,800 jobs in March. Advocates don't know when a rule could be issued, and they are frustrated.
“I've never seen such a clear instance in which we have accepted and condoned the exploitation of literally millions of people whose services are vital to our communities, to our families, to certainly our public programs,” said Bruce Vladeck, the former director of HHS' Health Care Financing Administration (now the CMS).
Vladeck, speaking during a conference call organized by the Service Employees International Union and the professional advocacy group Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, said they fear home-care lobbyists could make it a long wait before any action is taken.
Fifteen states, including Massachusetts, already offer home-care workers minimum wage and overtime protections without restrictions, but advocates want the same policies across the country.