State Leaders in Budget Fight over In-Home Health Services

(Getty Images)

The State Capitol Building in Sacramento. (Getty Images)

The primary is over, and now it’s crunch time to come up with a state budget. A key fiscal battle is pitting legislative Democrats against the governor in overtime pay for in-home care workers.

Last fall, the federal government changed the overtime rules for caregivers who cook, bathe and provide other help for elderly or disabled people who live in their own homes. Starting next January, caregivers are entitled to overtime pay for any hours they work exceeding 40 in each week.

Gov. Jerry Brown says California can’t afford the overtime pay. He wants to cap workers’ hours to avoid triggering the overtime rules. The budget proposals he released in January and May reflect this cap, as well as rate cuts for in-home health care providers.

“Whether it’s the overtime or the provider rates or the courts or any of the other items, we have to squeeze it out of the current budget,” Brown said at a press conference about his latest budget proposal last month. “This is one cut on how to do it. Others will see differently, but at the end of the day we have to live within the revenue.”

Families and disability rights advocates are terrified of the consequences. They say a cap on hours will force people to hire strangers to perform intimate care duties they only trust their regular caregiver to do.

“It’s not like, ‘I’ll take Pepsi instead of Coke.’ They’re not interchangeable,” said Deborah Doctor, a disability rights lobbyist.

She says it’s hard enough to find a suitable home worker as it is. The pay is low — an average of $10 an hour — and the work is messy and grueling. Doctor says few are willing to take on the kinds of tasks one caregiver provides for a disabled woman in Los Angeles.

“She does bowel extraction every week. So we think there’s going to be someone just dying to do this?” she says.

The state estimates it will cost around $186 million from the general fund to cover the overtime costs of in-home workers. Legislative Democrats argue the state can cover these costs now that its finances are in better shape — both the Senate and Assembly budget committees have proposed allocating money for the overtime pay.

But Brown has been advocating for fiscal restraint and bolstering the state’s rainy day fund. It remains to be seen what the governor will sign into law.

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  • elldogg

    Amazing to me that you are related (in general) to the person you are caring for, and yet getting paid to do what God, or what I believe is your DUTY, and yet the care-givers are asking for overtime. People should be ashamed for BEGGING for something that for thousands of years people did for free.

  • Mohamed

    I hope we don’t have a cap on the hours

  • Ellen Rollins

    It is kinder and cheaper to remain at home. Cheaper for state and county than in a nursing home. Non family or family member remain individuals in an economy that demands everyone have paid employment. Cost of living is so high those family members whom remain the care provider for a family member should not be destitute to do so. IHSS is a very low paid program that allows minimum compensation to IHSS providers to give up external employment to assist a family member to remain at home, saving the state and county 3-5xs the cost of institutional care. The cost to live is so high elidogg your rationalization no longer fits appropriate. The care provider is doing Gods good accepting such a low salary and the family duty to live assisting a family member to remain at home. IHSS only covers a maximum of 9 hours per day the remaining 15 hours are non-paid. No one is being paid 24 hours per day by IHSS.
    My daughter did not call her mother home. She bowed her pride and called the nurse parent home, so I perform for IHSS wage $8-$12 what I would normally, in my nursing profession, be paid $35 – $280 per hour to perform. She is my daughter I am pleased to assist her. The level of her care post a drunk driver hit and run is serious. I don’t mind the 15hours of non payment and appreciate I can serve my daughter, decrease the cost to general public, a get some earned compensation to live my own life with.

  • franceida igles

    using the Sumerian Rites could fix so many problems here in America, not just here but all over the world this method could have progress within the household. Europe once used this religion before switching over to Christianity…now I don’t have anything against Christian, truth be told there isn’t much difference between Muslim and Christianity…Besides its the United States that says ‘One Nation Under God’ so then why is that we cant work together because marriage is looked at different in this eye… Again I say, truth be told we all have the Right of Freedom & a human being is going to sleep with whom ever they want to any way, so why not just keep an open mind and the bills down.