Today is the last day to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)

Here is how repeal of the ACA (Obamacare) will affect Louisiana residents.

The facts: repeal of the ACA would result in a 154% increase in residents without health insurance — 558,000 in La. would lose health insurance.
It would also result in the loss of over 28,000 jobs in the state — 14 of every 1,000 jobs would be lost.
ACA appeal would cost the state of Louisiana $2.2 BILLION in healthcare dollars.

The ACA = Obamacare.
Today (1/31) is the last day to sign up.

Good News for Homecare Workers — Supreme Court Declines to Hear Challenge to Overtime Law

On June 27, as its term ended, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear the case of Home Care Association of America v. Weil, closing the door on the industry’s and for-profit companies’ last-ditch attempt to prevent home care workers from keeping their newly-won right to the minimum wage and overtime pay. More about the decision is here.

The National Employment Law Project has a good review of the long road to achieving this important victory for some of our lowest-paid, and most vulnerable, workers, most of whom are women of color. Home Care Workers Long March to Justice

Hotel housekeepers make the beds but still can’t afford to lie in them

This week marks the beginning of summer—family reunions, barbeques, and beach vacations— for those who can afford it. Those who can’t include hotel housekeepers, who like many U.S. workers over the past three decades have seen the standard features of a middle-class lifestyle grow even farther out of reach while productivity has more than doubled. …

via Hotel housekeepers make the beds but still can’t afford to lie in them.

Federal Court Strikes Down Rule on Pay for Home-Health Workers

Late Wednesday afternoon, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., struck down a proposed change to the Fair Labor Standards Act that would have required private and state-managed home health care agencies to pay their employees overtime and minimum wage.

Home health attendants and aides, disproportionately African American, female wage earners—neither nurse nor maid, but a combination of both—have historically been singled out for denial of basic labor rights. The DOL issued a new rule in September of 2013, which would have finally included home-care workers under FLSA coverage. The overall rule was set to take effect on Jan. 1 of this year, but the portion struck down Wednesday was put on hold until Jan. 15 pending the court’s decision.

Maria Fernandez, Bernardo Vega

Home health aide Maria Fernandez, right, helps Bernardo Vega, 88, left, make the bed as she performs household chores for Vega and his wife. Fernandez works for United Home Care Services which provides health care and home care services for elderly and disabled adults. Photograph by Lynne Sladky — AP

 

“The affected workers—often known as personal-care aides, home-health aides or certified nursing assistants—typically bathe, dress and feed elderly or disabled patients. A large percentage of them are hired directly by people with disabilities or their families. Others are employed by private companies that provide services. Workers typically are paid with Medicaid funds administered by states.

“Many home-health workers already are paid more than the federal minimum wage—currently $7.25 an hour—but don’t get paid time-and-a-half when they work more than 40 hours a week. Many also have no health-care coverage themselves.”

Read more from Time, Fortune and the Wall Street Journal

An Ounce of Prevention – Anticipating Changes to Companionship Regulations

“Enforcement of a final rule that takes effect Jan. 1, 2015, to extend Fair Labor Standards Act minimum-wage and overtime protections to certain direct-care workers is to be delayed, but employers should not hesitate to ensure timely compliance with the rule’s minimum-wage, overtime and record-keeping requirements. Effective Jan. 1, home-care agencies and third-party employers must pay at least the federal minimum wage and overtime to jointly or solely employed direct-care workers, such as a certified nursing assistant, home-health aide, personal care aide, caregiver or companion.

JOE RAEDLE / GETTY IMAGES Home care aides often make substantially less than their peers in hospitals and nursing homes

JOE RAEDLE / GETTY IMAGES
Home care aides often make substantially less than their peers in hospitals and nursing homes

“The key change that is applicable to private employers and to states is going to be tracking worker hours and better record-keeping practices,” said Sarah Leberstein, a lawyer with the National Employment Law Project and co-author of its Aug. 2011 “Fair Pay for Home Care Workers: Reforming the U.S. Department of Labor’s Companionship Regulations Under the Fair Labor Standards Act,” report. “It shouldn’t be rocket science. But some employers haven’t had to track hours worked by [home-care] workers,” she said, noting that this is especially true of states that thought of home-care workers as independent providers.

Workers should also be instructed on marking time worked, and employers should consider innovative ways to keep time records, Leberstein said. Under the final rule, “if the employee spends more time working than was anticipated, the employee must be paid,” Joseph K. Mulherin, a shareholder in Vedder Price’s Chicago office who advises employers on employment-law issues, said in a June 13, interview with Katarina E. Wiegele for Bloomberg BNA’s FLSA Litigation Tracker. “If the employee’s sleep time, meal periods or other periods of free time are interrupted, the interruption must be counted as hours worked.”

“In home-care work arrangements, there will undoubtedly be situations where the employee is working without the employer’s knowledge, e.g., because the employer is sleeping,” Mulherin said. “Thus, it is critical that employers require their employees to accurately self-report all actual work hours.”

The Labor Department Home Care web portal has employer resources and a page for workers to download a work calendar or link to a Smartphone app to track hours. For more information on the changes, see the Department of Labor Website: Home Health Care and the Companionship Services Exemption Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)  or the Comparison of Current vs. Proposed Companionship Regulations. Or read more about innovative ideas for complying with the changes at Bloomberg BNA.

40 Years Is Long Enough


Tell the DOL: "No Delay to Fair Pay"After waiting 40 years to be covered by the federal minimum wage and overtime law, home care workers may be forced to wait another 1.5 years—unless you help.

The Department of Labor did the right thing by issuing a rule to cover home care workers, but now there’s an effort to delay its implementation.

Tell the Department of Labor it cannot deny these basic labor protections any longer.

Home care workers provide vital services to elders and people with disabilities, yet earn poverty wages and struggle to sustain their own families on what they earn. They should NOT have to wait a moment longer to receive these basic protections afforded to virtually all other workers in America.

Justice delayed is justice too-long denied.

Tell the DOL: “No Delay to Fair Pay.”

Employers Eye Moving Sickest Workers To Insurance Exchanges

Employers have found yet another way to cut costs by shifting operating expenses onto the government and tax payers.

Moving even a few high-risk patients to exchange coverage could add millions of dollars in costs to those plans. The costs would be passed on to customers in the form of higher premiums and to taxpayers in the form of higher subsidy expense. By shrinking the hospital and doctor network to make the company plan unattractive to those with chronic illness or raising co-payments for drugs needed by the chronically ill, companies could make the plan unattractive, effectively pushing high-cost workers to look at other options.

Would he be happier with a health plan bought on the exchange? His boss probably would be. iStockphoto

Would he be happier with a health plan bought on the exchange? His boss probably would be. (iStockphoto)

“Shifting high-risk workers out of employer plans is prohibited for other kinds of taxpayer-supported insurance. For example, it’s illegal to induce somebody who is working and over 65 to drop company coverage and rely entirely on the government Medicare program for seniors, said Amy Gordon, a benefits lawyer with McDermott Will & Emery. Similarly, employers who dumped high-cost patients into temporary high-risk pools established by the health law are required to repay those workers’ claims to the pools. “You would think there would be a similar type of provision under the Affordable Care Act” for plans sold through the marketplace portals, Gordon said. “But there currently is not.””

Read the full NPR story here