Posted By Rep. Francis Rooney On 1:05 PM 07/19/2017
If people want to receive health care services in the comfort of their own homes, they should not be punished for their decision. Unfortunately, due to an Obama Administration regulation, seniors and disabled persons are penalized for choosing to receive home health care services. This is yet another overreaching government intrusion into peoples’ lives that needs to be reversed immediately.
The Obama regulation placed an unfair burden on seniors and disabled persons in order to appease labor unions. In 2013, the Department of Labor (DOL) enacted the New Home Care Regulations, which overturned an exemption to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 that protected seniors and disabled persons. Under the new rule, patients who choose to self-manage their home care are forced to comply with the same overtime, minimum-wage and record keeping requirements as a for-profit business. This makes it more difficult for patients to stay in their own homes.
The rule has wreaked havoc for patients and caregivers who rely on home care services, especially in my home state of Florida. Prior to the Obama regulations, Florida had an effective system regulating home care services that placed no undue burdens on patients and caregivers. However, since the New Home Care Regulations have taken effect, Florida’s licensed nurse registries, which refers to those who self-manage their home care, have been under assault from frivolous, unnecessary DOL investigations.
People should be in charge of their own health care decisions. If our seniors wish to receive care in the comfort of their own home instead of in an impersonal and unfamiliar setting, they should be able to do so without unnecessary penalties. It is not right to require individuals receiving home care to follow confusing federal record keeping rules. Further, the overtime provisions limit the number of hours nurses can work, which negatively affects their relationships with patients and the quality of services provided. This contradicts the purpose of home care, which is designed to make patients feel as comfortable as possible while receiving care.
Additionally, the regulations also fail to account for live-in care, which is vital to many individuals who need around-the-clock care. Under the New Home Care Regulations, costs have gone up for live-in options, forcing many to leave the comfort of their homes to seek care. This is often a demoralizing and depressing move for patients all just to satisfy unions.
We need to protect the elderly and disabled from government and union intrusion. This is why, along with ten of my colleagues, I sent a letter to Labor Secretary Acosta calling on the DOL to protect patients’ rights in regards to home care. The federal government needs to stop interfering with effectively run programs and allow people to make their own choices about health care.
Since taking office, President Trump and his administration have focused on limiting government interference in the everyday lives of Americans by reversing ridiculous regulations decreed by his predecessor. Addressing the havoc created by the DOL’s New Home Care Regulations would be a good next step in protecting our seniors and disabled persons from government overreach.
Francis Rooney is the U.S. Representative for Florida’s 19th congressional district. He serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Committee on Education and the Workforce. He previously served as U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See under President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2008.