From Public News Service
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois advocates for in-home health-care workers and their clients say the state’s new overtime pay ban already may be harming the people who rely on those services.
Gov. Bruce Rauner’s change to not allow overtime hours at time-and-a-half pay for home health-care workers went into effect Sunday. Sharon Lamp, a northwestern Illinois volunteer with Access Living, has a neuromuscular condition and relies on a wheelchair.
Under the new rules, she said, she’s been forced to cut back on time with her personal-assistance caregiver. “Because of the change, she cannot work more than 40 hours a week for me,” Lamp said. “My existing PA is scrambling to find another part-time job, which affects my existing care. My schedule of care is now very chaotic.”
According to Access Living, home caregivers already are some of the lowest-paid state workers. Rauner’s office, however, has argued that the state cannot afford to pay for those workers’ overtime hours despite a federal ruling that requires overtime for hourly workers. Home health-care advocates have argued that Rauner is skirting the federal overtime rule by simply banning overtime work for about 24,000 personal assistants. Lamp said the changes to the Illinois Home Services Program could result in more people being placed in nursing homes, which would end up costing the state more than in-home care.
“The changes are not good for people with disabilities; it actually moves us backwards in time,” she said, “and the changes are not ultimately good fiscally for the state of Illinois.”
A group of health-care advocates, people with disabilities and home-care workers rallied to protest the overtime cuts on Wednesday outside the Department of Human Services office on Clinton Street in Chicago. The group is asking the governor to reverse the overtime ban.
More information is online at accessliving.org.