February 2012 Washington Update: Page 2 of 2
Proposed Rule to Secure Protections for Home Care Workers
The AGS applauded the Department of Labor’s proposal, announced in December 2011, to extend Fair Labor Standards Act protections to home care workers. The AGS had long urged the department to do so, as had the Eldercare Workforce Alliance (EWA), which is co-convened by Nancy Lundebjerg, AGS chief operating officer. The extension of these protections to these workers was, in fact, one of the first issues the EWA championed. Currently, the nation’s nearly two million home care workers are excluded from federal minimum wage and overtime protections. This new proposal would ensure home care workers these protections.
In a letter to Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, the EWA noted that direct-care workers—who are currently responsible for providing 70% to 80% of the paid hands-on, long-term care for older adults in the United States—are important members of the interdisciplinary care team. The proposed change signifies an understanding on the part of the Obama Administration that recruitment and retention of a quality workforce is essential to providing quality care.
AGS Joins Call for Higher Funding for NIA in Fiscal Year 2013
In a show of support for the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the AGS signed a January 2012 letter urging National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins, MD, to request $1.4 billion for the institute in fiscal year 2013. This measure would increase funding for the NIA by $300 million. The letter was spearheaded by Friends of the National Institute on Aging (FoNIA), an organization of which the AGS has long been a member. The AGS regularly participates in FoNIA meetings, discussions, and letter-writing efforts aimed at securing much-needed additional funding for NIA research initiatives.
AGS Endorses Proposed Bill to Improve Patient Access to Quality Care
In December 2011, the AGS endorsed the Medicare Home Health Planning Improvement Act of 2011. The legislation would ensure that older adults and disabled citizens receive timely access to home health services by enabling physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, and certified nurse midwives to order home healthcare for Medicare patients. The society signed a letter by the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (www.nahc.org), asking members of Congress to cosponsor this important bill.