Labor Secretary Emphasizes State Obligations on Home Care Final Rule

Washington D.C. (September 2, 2015)–  In a letter responding to the request of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the nation’s largest disability rights organization, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez affirmed States’ obligations relating to the rights of people with disabilities to live independently in their homes and communities. The new Home Care Final Rule, currently the subject of litigation before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, would require states to extend Fair Labor Standards Act Protections to important sectors of the personal assistance workforce.

Groups like AAPD have long supported efforts to improve the wages and working conditions of those who provide personal assistance services to people with disabilities. However, many states are choosing to implement the Home Care Rule by placing inflexible caps on the number of hours that their Medicaid programs will pay for particular personal assistants, and by taking further steps that threaten the ability of individuals with disabilities to continue to live in their own homes rather than in institutions. These developments have caused many disability advocates to oppose implementation of the rule.

Secretary Perez emphasized in a letter to AAPD that States must implement the rule in a manner that complies with their obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and that state Medicaid Agencies must not cap attendant hours if such caps put people with disabilities at serious risk of institutionalization or segregation. The Secretary went on to say that the way States choose to implement the Home Care Final Rule should not undermine consumer-directed models of personal care.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon vacated major provisions of the new rule. The Department of Labor filed an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on the 22nd of January. AAPD has filed an amicus brief supporting the new rule, which strongly cautions states to comply with their obligations under the ADA.

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