California Governor Edmund Brown Jr. released his May revision to the 2014-2015 budget without removing a controversial 40-hour cap on in-home supportive services (IHSS) workers. His proposal will block in-home workers from working overtime.
A recent federal order requires in-home workers to receive additional pay for overtime, but Brown’s budget would exempt California from the new rule by barring in-home workers from putting in more than 40 hours a week.
Advocates and labor unions have lambasted the governor’s push to limit hours, saying it will financially strain home caregivers and throw into disarray the lives of those who depend on more than 40 hours of weekly care.
The In-Home Supportive Services Program pays workers to be home attendants for hundreds of thousands of physically and mentally disabled Californians. About 360,000 workers draw a salary from the program, earning between $8 and $12.20 an hour, depending on the county.
Created as a more humane and cost-effective alternative to institutionalization, the IHSS program has evolved from a system of individual cash grants to a network of unionized providers. Paying a family member for watching over a loved one, the thinking goes, is a better deal for taxpayers than placing someone in a state-run nursing home or care facility.
The vast majority of providers – about 70 percent – are also family members. About 83,000 providers work more hours in a month than the cap would allow.
Limiting hours for in-home supportive services workers will save California a substantial amount of money, Brown argued. He noted that the program’s cost rose by a quarter of a billion dollars between January and May of this year. The average monthly caseload has ballooned from 317,000 in 2003 to 453,000 in the current fiscal year, costing the general fund about $2 billion. Implementing the federal overtime rules could cost an extra $186 million a year, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office.
“At the end of the day,” Brown said, “we’ve got to live within the revenue.”
Requiring the state to pay overtime, Brown said, would mean subtracting money elsewhere.
Under the governor’s proposal, recipients could cover extra hours through new pools of backup providers who would be available on short notice. Providers are skeptical that safety net is workable. It can already be difficult finding enough people to do what is often grueling and low-paid work, and they say the 40-hour cap would disqualify many current providers from enrolling in the new backup pools. Help available on short notice could prove elusive in sprawling rural counties, they argue.
“We’re concerned about our capacity to develop a provider backup system that would be nimble enough to meet consumers’ needs,” said Karen Keeslar of the California Association of Public Authorities for IHSS, which represents the state’s network of county-level agencies.
The Legislature has already secured overtime pay for privately employed domestic workers, enshrining the additional pay in a so-called “domestic workers bill of rights” that passed last year. The In-Home Supportive Services Program was specifically exempted from the bill, irking some providers who see different standards for private businesses and the public support services program.
Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/05/19/6416782/california-home-care-workers-worry.html#storylink=cpy
From the Sacramento Bee article: "California home care workers worry governor's budget would disrupt care, unsettle lives"