Legislation could be problematic for home-care agencies

6:47 PM, Sep 6, 2012   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO, CA - The fastest growing profession in California, one that does not require a college degree for employment, may face big challenges if the legislation on Gov. Jerry Brown's desk gets approved.

The demand for home health care workers is soaring as baby boomers - the 78 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 - get older and the cost of nursing homes and assisted living facilities increases.

Assembly Bill 889, which awaits Brown's pass or veto, would ensure that personal care aides, and other domestic care workers, qualify for overtime, get at least a 30-minute lunch break during a 10-hour shift and get 10 minute breaks every 2-hours.

For agencies that employ personal care workers, they would have to provide coverage for every single break, for every single worker; shorter shifts because required over-time pay would be unaffordable; and a surge in the cost of what many consider the cheapest delivery system of home health services.

 "Our state association has been concentrating on these bills because they would really affect our industry," California Association for Health Services and Home Care Board of Directors Ken Erman said. "And they would make it impossible for us to operate and offer our services at an affordable rate to the clients. We have all of the providers throughout California coming into Sacramento and they've lobbied at all of the legislators offices, senators and such, and we've explained to them the ramifications of the bill"

In 2010, there were 61,000 home health care workers in the state of California; the projected number in 2020 is more than 93,000.

Critics of the legislation said with or without regulation, baby boomers are aging, and the need for health care services is growing. But the legislation, dubbed the "Domestic Workers Bill of Rights," critics said, will drive families who hire domestic workers to find the help "under-ground" and pay cash under the table.

Legislation similar to AB 889 was passed in New York earlier this year, but exempted home health care aides.


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