New Labor Department regulations on personal caretakers threaten to drive seniors from their homes and slash work hours for workers in the field, according to critics.
The regulation, which requires seniors to provide part-time assistants with full-time benefits, is expected to cost billions of dollars. The Labor Department’s 2010 proposal that paved the way was expected to cost $2 billion over the next ten years.
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Controversial Labor Secretary Tom Perez instituted the new regulations on Tuesday afternoon, declaring them a victory for the nation’s "certified nursing assistants, home health aides, personal care aides, caregivers, and companions."
"Most direct care workers will be entitled to receive federal minimum wage and overtime pay protections," the department said.
Critics said the regulations would massively increase costs for seniors and others who rely on caretakers.
"Today’s regulatory action by the Department of Labor will raise costs and limit access to in-home care for vulnerable Americans," House Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R., Minn.) and workforce protections subcommittee Chairman Tim Walberg (R., Mich.) said in a joint statement.
"Faced with higher costs, some individuals will have no choice but to leave their homes and enter institutional living. This misguided regulation will make matters worse for countless families struggling in the Obama economy," the congressmen said.
Many of the workers covered by the regulation have full-time jobs and supplement their income by accompanying the elderly and disabled on a part-time basis, according to critics.
"The people who purchase these services are generally of limited means," one GOP Capitol Hill staffer said. "Under this regulation there’s a very real concern that employers will cut hours back to control costs."
Not only will it hurt workers, it could take a toll on seniors. Many caregivers are relatives who receive Medicaid dollars to supplement the costs of caring for their loved ones.
Tuesday’s regulatory announcement is the latest in a slew of Democratic attacks on the field.
The politically powerful healthcare and the public sector Service Employees International Union (SEIU) forced family members caring for disabled children and elderly relatives to pay union dues. Michigan’s SEIU chapter netted more than $34 million in union dues from relatives in the past few years.
Obamacare, meanwhile, has punished family caregivers by retracting Medicaid dollars based on the "conflict of interest inherent in using a family member to serve as nurse.
The regulation will take effect in Jan. 2015.