Thursday, November 20, 2014

Brownback: more federal overreach

By The Herald Staff | 8/25/2014

Upset by what he considers another form of Federal government overreach, Gov. Sam Brownback announced he will challenge a federal Department of Labor mandate that offers minimum wage and overtime compensation to home care attendants who work more than 40 hours a week.

“This is another example of federal overreach that directly affects the quality of life for our most vulnerable Kansans,” Brownback said when he met with elderly and individuals with disabilities in Wichita on Wednesday. “It threatens our system of providing services that allow many elderly and disabled in Kansas to continue to live independently in their homes and communities rather than in institutions.”

Upset by what he considers another form of Federal government overreach, Gov. Sam Brownback announced he will challenge a federal Department of Labor mandate that offers minimum wage and overtime compensation to home care attendants who work more than 40 hours a week.

“This is another example of federal overreach that directly affects the quality of life for our most vulnerable Kansans,” Brownback said when he met with elderly and individuals with disabilities in Wichita on Wednesday. “It threatens our system of providing services that allow many elderly and disabled in Kansas to continue to live independently in their homes and communities rather than in institutions.”

The rule, which takes affect Jan. 1, creates “strict” overtime requirements for supportive home care workers and personal care attendants who care for the disabled and the elderly, the release said. The rule will have a “dramatic” effect on home and community-based services provided to KanCare members who are on the physical disability, developmental disability and frail elderly Medicaid waiver programs, the release said.

“We want home care workers and personal care attendants to be paid fairly,” Brownback said. “But this new rule guts a system that has worked successfully for nearly 40 years and threatens a family-oriented system that lets disabled individuals have choice and control over their life.”

The mandate would limit service workers to 40 hours per week, which could create a workforce shortage because many workers would look elsewhere for employment, the release said. Limiting workers’ hours would also affect the ability of KanCare consumers to find qualified staff to provide their in-home care, especially in sparsely populated, rural and frontier communities, the release said.

According to the release, Brownback outlined the multiple steps being taken to challenge the rule:

•A letter was sent to the U.S. Department of Labor last week asking for either an exemption for its home- and community-based Medicaid waivers or for an implementation delay of these rules.

•The administration is working with both Kansas and national stakeholder groups to both educate and organize consumers and their families on the impact of the rule.

•The Department for Aging and Disability Services will announce a nationwide call-in day, when all Kansans and Americans should contact the White House, U.S. Department of Labor, and Congress to weigh in on the new rule.

•Brownback reached out to other governors across the country to share the impact the rule will have on Kansas and to explore ways they can join forces to push back what they consider federal overreach.

•Brownback’s administration has asked both the Kansas congressional delegation and the Kansas Legislature to engage in this fight with by sending letters to the U.S. Department of Labor about the impact this rule will have on our state.

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