Alex Elegudin: Support the State Fair Pay for Home Care Bill
In April 2022, New York City Council Member Christopher Marte introduced legislation Int 0175–2022 named “Maximum working hours for home care aides,” that would amend the New York City labor laws. The new amendment, if enacted, would expand certain protections to cover employers in the home health care services industry
If adopted, the bill would greatly restrict the number of hours a home care aide may be permitted to work in a single workweek. Specifically, the bill prohibits employers from assigning a home care aide to: (1) a single shift exceeding 12 hours; (2) consecutive 12-hour shifts; or (3) multiple shifts totaling more than 12 hours in any 24-hour period. The bill further prohibits aides from working more than 50 hours in any single workweek.
While well intentioned, this bill will hurt people with disabilities, seniors, and the home care workers it seeks to protect. While penalizing agencies whose workers provide in excess of 12 hours of care per day, or 50 hours in a week, it does nothing to address the underlying system. Wheeling Forward President Alex Elegudin says “the underlying issue is funding, more funding is needed to pay home care workers, yet this bill takes a backward approach to the issue.”
New York State law and regulations require Medicaid managed care plans and local social services districts, including New York City HRA, to authorize, when necessary, 24-hour service plans, in either 24-hour or split shifts of 12 or 8 hours each, depending on the needs of the patient. In some cases, a 24-hour shift (rather than split shifts) is in the best interests of the patient. If they refuse, a Medicaid recipient can and will file for a fair hearing and be awarded the services. In the Medicaid home care program, agencies cannot impose limits on how those needing services schedule their workers.
The New York State Department of Health has made clear that the agencies cannot have any involvement in that process. Intro 0175–2022 would require them to violate that mandate. Alex Elegudin noted, “were this bill to become law, it would create a mess around home care operations and cause many to suffer.” If enacted, home care agencies that receive these authorizations would be forced to either violate their State contracts or face fines from New York City.
Alex Elegudin opposes the bill and believes this bill will have dire consequences on those with disabilities, and some may be forced from the home care program altogether. Elegudin states “limiting home care workers to 50 hours per week deprives them of wages necessary to afford rent, food and other bills. Instead, home care workers will be forced to work more hours across multiple agencies to equal the same amount of take-home pay.”
Alex Elegudin concluded, “the right approach is to support the state Fair Pay for Home Care bill because employment conditions for home care workers need to improve, but more funding is needed.” However, until state legislation is accomplished, any local government action inconsistent with state law may cause significant harm to home care workers and to the disabled and older New Yorkers who rely on these home care services to live independent lives in their communities.