Judge Renders Important Ruling Affecting Homecare
This week in the world of Homecare news, several media outlets are reporting that an important decision was recently rendered by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, striking down a recent Companionship Services/Overtime rule put into place by the Department of Labor. The DOL created rule would have imposed a number new rules affecting the status of Homecare employees, the hours they work, and the wages they are compensated with just to scratch the surface.
The new rules were very unpopular with caregivers, the NAHC, and many more industry members. In what is largely considered a triumphant win for both patients and providers of home health care, the judge’s ruling comprehensively invalidates DOL’s new rule, allowing for the current practices of payment for workers to remain in place indefinitely. The original lawsuit filed to upend the new rule was strongly supported by a number of state Homecare Associations. Those participating in the effort to dismantle the rule included the Home Care Association of Florida and many other state Homecare Associations, with the effort being lead by the National Association of Home Care and Hospice. The judge’s ruling was considered crucial to making sure patients would continue (under the existing policies) to be able to afford quality home care, as well as allow for state budgets to continue providing Medicaid home health without penalty.
Denise Schrader, current chairman of the NAHC Board was very pleased with the ruling.
“This decision is a huge victory for patients and their families who will be able to continue receiving home care services without interruption. The decision is a huge victory for caregivers who will continue to be protected instead of being forced to work only part time. The decision is likewise a huge victory for the agencies that serve patients and employ caregivers, and who will see continuity in a rule that has been in effect for 40 plus years and had recently been sustained by the U.S. Supreme Court. Finally, the decision is a huge victory for the states and the federal Medicaid program,” she stated once informed of the news.
The judge’s ruling is considered the latest in a string of victories associated within the issues of this lawsuit involving home care agency interests within the last month. Back in late December, the court ruled that patients are entitled to equal rights regardless of whether they or their families had paid their home care bills or if alternatively, they were paid for by the joint, federal-state health insurance program known as Medicaid. On December 31, the court also ruled on the side of the NAHC by issuing a Temporary Restraining Order blocking the Department of Labor from enforcing these new rules related to “companionship” and “live-in” care. In considering a motion filed by the NAHC legal team to block the new rules from taking effect, the judge stated that so much evidence was in the record that a trial would not be necessary. The judge therefore levied the decision that the new rules in fact were a violation of law prior to Jan 14th, (the date when the temporary restraining order was set to expire).
The legal battles involving this issue may not be over, though the DOL has not announced that it will appeal the decision to U.S. Court of Appeals.
“The home care community is prepared to defend this case before the higher court. We fought this case once before and took it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where we won by a unanimous vote of 8-0. We are prepared to do this again if we need to do so,” stated NAHC President Val J. Halamandaris.
We will continue to keep an eye on this case and other matters affecting the national Homecare industry and the laws that have a direct impact on agencies and caregivers.
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