An Obama proposal would make home care more costly by allowing for overtime pay to caregivers. This will effect hours of care, number of caregivers, Long Term Care insurance coverage and possibly evenallowing people to remain at home. Take Action and communicate to your representatives.
The Miami Herald > Opinion > Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor * Friday, 01.06.12
Home-Care Services May Become More Costly
Millions of seniors enjoyed the holidays, thanks in large part to the affordability of trusted licensed home healthcare givers who provide daily critical assistance, be it medication reminders, dressing or cooking.
But as early as March, barring a reversal of an executive order from President Obama, the quality of life enjoyed now by many seniors could be adversely affected both in their independence and checkbook.
Under the president’s Dec. 15 directive to the Department of Labor, home health aides, exempt from federal wage laws since 1974, will have to be paid an hourly wage and overtime for service over 40 hours a week.
Don’t expect insurance policies to extend for this added cost. If the consumer pays out of pocket for all home care now, the cost could be staggering. Imagine paying a licensed, trained and background-checked home health worker, now costing $17 an hour, $25.50 an hour for 30 hours of overtime. Weekly, that added expense would be $247.50 and yearly it could be almost $13,000.
The options are not pretty:
• Individuals may give up their independent lifestyle and shift to institutions that until now were more costly.
• Children paying for or monitoring a parent’s expenses might start hiring independent caregivers, skipping over companies that provide credentialed caregivers.
• To get around overtime, individuals may choose to create a revolving door of caregivers. This won’t make the client particularly happy either. “Don’t send me anybody else,” is a familiar directive to home healthcare providers such as myself.
A relationship between the caregiver and senior can determine if the senior is comfortable enough to go on an errand or an activity with an aide or choose to stay home, shrinking their world and opportunities for happiness.
Individuals who provide this important work for our growing senior population should be fairly compensated, but at what cost to the consumer? There must be balance.
The Department of Labor has opened a 60-day public comment period ending Feb. 27 before acting on the president’s initiative. Concerned South Floridians should call President Obama and their congressional representatives to express opposition to the anticipated negative impact.
Joseph Bensmihen, owner and CEO, Boca Home Care Services, Boca Raton