HOME CARE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA V. DAVID WEIL
This case has implications for home healthcare workers and the industry, though it’s not yet clear whether the Supreme Court will agree to hear it.
Home healthcare industry groups are challenging a new federal Labor Department rule that would mean higher wages for many home healthcare workers. For decades, home healthcare agencies haven’t had to pay minimum wage or overtime to companionship workers who provide “fellowship, care and protection.”
The rule, however, would significantly narrow the definition of companionship workers to those who spend no more than 20% of their time providing actual care, such as feeding and bathing. It would also no longer exempt companionship workers employed by third parties, such as home healthcare providers, from wage protections.
The Labor Department says the new rule is needed to ensure fair wages. Industry groups, however, say the rule could make home care unaffordable for many and destabilize the industry.
A federal appeals court recently upheld the rule. Industry groups responded by saying they will likely take the matter to the Supreme Court.
“This affects millions of people who receive the care. It affects state Medicaid programs that finance the care. It affects thousands of companies that provide the care, and it affects 1 to 2 million workers,” said William Dombi, co-counsel for the industry in the case and a vice president at the National Association for Home Care and Hospice. “We have a significant public policy issue here.”
Those on the other side of the case, however, believe its chances of reaching the high court are slim.
“We do not expect the Supreme Court to take up this case,” said Robert Espinoza, vice president of policy at the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, which represents home health aides and other healthcare workers.