Those of you who have read this blog in the past probably have seen a number of article over the last couple of years about laws that were being proposed (and are now in place) concerning professional caregivers. There have been a number, including minimum wage increases and so forth, but the most important has been the one concerning overtime.
Through December 31, 2013, professional caregivers providing home care were not subject to overtime provisions of wage and hour laws. Assembly Bill 241, in California, supposedly changed that, removing the exemption. Unfortunately, we can say pretty clearly, six months later, that it has not made the lives or wages of most professional caregivers better.
Why is that? Well there are two issues involved.
The first issue is one we discussed with legislators in California at the time, including at hearings held at the capital. As a home care company, Support For Home is a definite advocate of higher wages for caregivers. They are dramatically under-paid and under-appreciated in our society. However, as we told the legislators, removing the overtime exemption (or raising minimum wage) was only one side, literally, of the coin. The other side of the coin is getting families and clients who need non-clinical home care some help in paying for it.
You see, if I need help with eating or dressing or toileting or transportation (to doctors, for example), those needs are directly related to my health. However, the assistance I need is not provided by a clinician (a nurse or doctor or PT, …) and is, therefore, not paid for by Medicare or Kaiser or Blue Cross or whatever medical insurance I have. The cost is borne by me and my family, in spite of the criticality of the need, relative to my health.
So, unless the legislatures (state and federal) do something about that, getting some assistance in place from medical insurance for health-related but non-clinical home care, the family budget gets stretched, in many cases, beyond the breaking point. For example, paying overtime properly – an issue to which we will return – puts the cost of a single 24-hour shift in California above $400.
Thus, while the families and clients – and we at Support For Home – would love to pay caregivers what they deserve, there simply is not the money to do so. We have had a number of families move Mom into assisted living facilities (ALFs), despite the higher level of need Mom has, that ALFs cannot meet, and in spite of Mom’s desperate wish to stay in her home forever.
What is the other issue with the new laws? Please read my next post to find out. 🙂