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Raise Pay for Home-Care Aides? Disability-Rights Groups Say No Way

The disabled and elderly may have to pay more or get less care

Republicans crowed in early October when the Department of Labor said it planned to hold off enforcing a new regulation requiring home-care workers who look after elderly and disabled people to be paid minimum wage, overtime, and travel time. “The fact that the department plans to ignore its own rule after it goes into effect should be proof enough that it should be scrapped altogether,” Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said in a statement after the department announced the delay.

Alexander’s comment was echoed by a group usually less inclined to criticize the Obama administration: disability-rights advocates. Critics of the new rule include Ari Ne’eman, a White House appointee to the National Council on Disability, who argues that raising wages for home-care workers without increasing the amount of government money available to pay for them will cut the number of hours disabled and elderly people spend with aides. “In the absence of an increase in Medicaid funding to cover those costs, we are going to see people with disabilities have our services reduced in quantity and quality,” says Ne’eman, who is president of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network.