Arkansas Seeking Comments on Proposal to Cap Home Care Workers’ Hours
The Division of Medical Services of the Arkansas Department of Human Services is proposing to cap hours for personal assistants in the Alternatives for Adults with Physical Disabilities Waiver (AAPD) program at no more than 40 hours per week — with no exception — starting January 1, 2015. Additionally, it proposes limiting each worker to providing services to only one consumer per day.
The Division announced its proposition in an October 31 memorandum in which it asks “Interested Persons and Providers” for comments, as the state requires for any Medicaid policy revisions. If implemented, the state will avoid having to compensate workers for overtime and for travel time between consumers.
The deadline to comment on the Division’s proposal (pdf) is November 29.
Arkansas’ proposed policy change in the AAPD waiver program, which serves 2,200 individuals, coincides with the effective date of the U.S. Department of Labor‘s (DOL) new rule (pdf) that extends minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act. In early October, DOL announced delayed enforcement of the rule until July 2015 in order to give states additional time to come into compliance.
Advocates, including PHI, are calling the proposal a “rigid response” to the new DOL rule that will harm both consumers and workers. They are urging the state to “reconsider this approach and instead budget sufficient funds to pay overtime compensation to attendants in this program.” (See the advocates’ letter template suggested for stakeholders who are opposed to the cap.)
In Arkansas, the median hourly wage for personal care aides and home health aides is $8.65 and $8.59 respectively, according to the PHI State Data Center on the direct-care workforce.
In his budget proposal earlier this year, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) proposed a 40-hour cap for home care workers employed in the In-Home Supportive Services program, but the state legislature rejected his plan.
To assist states with successful implementation of the new DOL rule that extends home care workers basic labor protections, PHI and the National Law Employment Project created a State Implementation Toolkit (pdf).
— by Deane Beebe