Companionship Rule in Final Review at OMB
Monday, March 11, 2013
by: VNAA Policy Team

Section: Public Policy and Advocacy

A Department of Labor proposed rule, released in late 2011, is in its final review stages. The rule would remove the exemption for home health “companions,” care and require employers to pay these employees a minimum wage as well as time and a half for overtime.

The rule-making process was delayed to allow extra time for comments from the home care industry and other stakeholder groups. Last month, the Department of Labor sent its final rules to the White House Office of Management and Budget — the last step in the review process before they are approved. The budget office is a political agency and it is unclear if the rule will move forward without explicit direction from the President.

VNAA submitted comments to the proposed rule on February 23, 2012, to review these comments please click here.

VNAA provided the following recommendations to DOL for the implementation of the rule:
  • The final rule should make clear that regulations are not to be applied retrospectively.
  • DOL should ensure that final regulations are sensitive to needs of patients and the importance of limiting the need for multiple caregivers in the home setting.
  • DOL should recognize that burdensome and narrowly defined restrictions may result in unsafe care and increased costs to patients and government payers.
  • The rule should be phased in over at least 18 months to allow agencies to undertake an orderly process for adding new workers and an accurate assessment of the costs involved,
  • DOL should provide greater flexibility in the rule for paying overtime to live-in or sleep-over employees.
  • DOL should simply defer the definition of such specific tasks to existing state and local guidelines.
  • The blanket disqualification of agency-employed staffing should be eliminated and the application of the exclusion should be based solely on the nature of the services.
  • DOL should: 1) provide more accurate burden estimates of costs and 2) simplify the recordkeeping process.
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