Home Health Care
(9/19/13)- Evelyn Coke, who passed away recently and was the appellant in the case that we wrote about in our item dated 6/23/07 would be smiling now, because Obama administration officials announced that it was extending minimum wage and overtime protection to the nation’s nearly 2 million home care workers.
Under the new rule, home care aides, unlike baby sitters, would be covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the nation’s main wage and hour law. About 20 states exclude home care workers from their wage and hour laws. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.
Under the new rules, which will take effect January 1, 2015, any home care aides hired through home care companies or other third party agencies cannot be exempt from minimum wage and overtime coverage. The exemptions for aides who mainly provide “companionship services” are limited to the individual family or household using the services.
If an aide provides “care” that exceeds 20% of the total hours worked each week, then the worker is to receive minimum wage and overtime protection. “Care” is defined as assisting with the activities of daily living, like dressing, grooming feeding or bathing and assisting with “instrumental activities of daily living,” like meal preparation, driving, light housework, managing finances and assisting with the physical taking of medications.
(6/23/07)- In a 9-0 decision the U.S. Supreme Court upheld federal regulations that exempt home health care aides who work through agencies from minimum-wage and overtime protection. Evelyn Coke, an employee of Long Island Care at Home did not get time-and-a-half for overtime even when she worked 24-hours a day at homes in Great Neck and Manhasset in Long Island. Ms. Coke, 73, initially filed her lawsuit in 2002.
The main issue in the case was whether several 1974 amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act exempted home care aides employed by agencies from minimum wage and overtime protections. All parties in this dispute agreed that those amendments exempted aides hired directly by the elderly or the infirm.
The Bloomberg administration in New York filed a brief in support of the agency, stating how costly it would be for Medicaid to pay the additional costs if home care aides were to be paid overtime and minimum wages.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote the opinion for the majority in which he acknowledged that the Labor Department had issued conflicting regulations on this matter. Ms. Coke's attorneys cited a recent ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit which had invalidated a regulation exempting the aides from wage protection The circuit court ruled that the regulation clashed with 1974 legislation that broadened minimum wage coverage.
But the Supreme Court overruled the circuit court, saying that Congress's intent was clear with regards to home care aides. Justice Breyer wrote that he court should defer to the department's expertise, and especially to its most recent interpretations, which take the position that the aides should be exempt.
Senator Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.-Dem.) said he would seek to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to ensure that home aides were protected.
(5/23/07)-The following is a copy of an email that we received from Joseph
J. Tomaino of the Tomaino
From: Joseph J. Tomaino
Sent: Saturday, March 17, 2007 9:05 AM
Subject: Nursing Home Article
I was very touched by your article on selecting a nursing home, and I have included a link to it on my web site for people providing care to elders: http://www.longtermcareadvice.org . I would appreciate it if you put a link to this site on your site if you think it would be of value to your readers. Thanks
The Tomaino Group
Innovative and Practical Solutions
For Leaders of Continuing Care
834 Heritage Court
Yorktown Heights, NY 10598
(7/31/04)- How does your local home health agency compare with other such agencies in the community and in the state that your beloved relative or friend live in? The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has included this information in its site www.medicare.gov that will help you get some answers to this question.
New York City will add a service through its official Web site for people who take care of elderly relatives, friends and others. The Web site, caregiver.org can be accessed through the city's general government Web site, nyc.gov. The site will provide information about local resources, including respite care, support groups, in-home support services and financial and legal assistance.
"Home health care is provided when you have a medical need for skilled nursing care and other services like physical and occupational therapy, speech language therapy, and medical social services provided by a variety of skilled health care professionals at home. Home health care may help you reach and keep your best physical , mental and social well-being."
The CMS now offers comparative information on this topic on this site. The site is entitled "Home Health Compare". The site is broken into statewide comparisons on an individual basis and on a state wide average basis.
It includes such categories as City, Patients who get better at bathing, walking, moving around or who get better at taking their medicines correctly (by mouth). The different criteria that are shown are important in helping you or your loved ones to determine which agencies can help you continue to live at home, and at the same time receive qualified home health care.
The site also includes a complete listing of Medicare-certified home health agencies in your area.
FOR AN INFORMATIVE AND PERSONAL ARTICLE ON PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS WHEN SELECTING A NURSING HOME SEE OUR ARTICLE "How to Select a Nursing Home"
updated September 19, 2013