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OT change prompts protest

Tuesday, Apr 26, 2016

* Let’s hope some of these folks don’t end up in far more expensive state care

Lisa Kotsirs can’t leave her 29 year-old epileptic autistic daughter alone in a room because she fears her daughter would harm herself. But a looming pay cut for home caretakers triggered by the ongoing state budget impasse could leave Kotsirs with a difficult decision to make.

She and her daughter, Mandy Kotsirs, took part in a news conference Monday at the E.J. “Zeke” Giorgi Center to protest state regulations that, beginning May 1, will cap overtime pay for home caretakers. That means people such as Mandy who need more than 40 hours of care a week must find multiple caretakers to juggle the task.

Mandy needs continuous care because she has severe developmental delays, sensory issues and autism. Her mother works as her personal care worker, earning $13 an hour. About 8,600 personal care workers will feel the impact of the new overtime cap and many families could be forced to place their children in state institutions, Lisa Kotsirs said.

“This [in-home care] is needed … to help have them be more independent and hopefully drastically improve quality of life,” she said. “Caring for people like my daughter is a difficult task and not many people want to do the job.”

But is it really about the impasse?

* Read on

Home healthcare workers, like Templeton, get paid by the department of human services.

Starting May 1st they’re limited to 40 hours of work per week with some exceptions. […]

The department of human services says some people are taking advantage of the system, collecting dozens of hours in overtime pay.

The new rules mean the state will more closely review which workers earn time and a half.

* The fact that SEIU was behind yesterday’s media event suggests there’s more going on here

Home care workers say they regularly work overtime. Now, because they’re required by law to be paid overtime, the Rauner Administration is cracking down on their hours.

Members of SEIU say the Rauner Administration’s new policy limiting hours to 40 a week doesn’t take into account what those who rely on home care workers need.

Those who need more than 40 hours a week can hire additional help under the new rules, but workers say their clients prefer people they know and trust.

“These consumers have built a repertoire with this particular person. These consumers may have disabilities that require specific needs and they may put their trust in one person. They may have worked for this person for 20 years, and now they are changing it where they have to hire someone else to come into their home and provide this assistance,” said Denise Groesch, Center for Independent Living.

And

There are nearly 9,000 disabled people impacted by the new overtime rules. The union representing home healthcare workers says it is an attempt by the Rauner Administration to avoid new federal rules that extend overtime to those healthcare workers.

You would expect the union to be OK with less overtime because that would mean more people (meaning more members) would have to be hired. But they’re on the side of those receiving care and the organizations providing it.

If there’s fraud, clamp down. Otherwise, why incur the expense of hiring and training more people? I’m not sure I understand this yet.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

31 Comments
  1. - illinois manufacturer - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:15 am:

    It is about bashing another union not providing care or saving money. Since this union does not get fair share you really can’t question their motives


  2. - A guy - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:22 am:

    This one is way more complicated than union issues.


  3. - Quill - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:28 am:

    People in the Home Services Program are people with disabilities ages 18 to 59 who hire (and fire) their own personal attendants, or home care workers. The program is designed to be individualized in nature and ensure that people have the dignity of being in charge of their own personal care (like toileting, eating, dressing, bathing). It can take a lot of searching and a lot of time to find the right workers that you will allow to touch your body, and come in your home. Some of these workers also work for more than one HSP customer. The workers who work for more than one person, and accrue more than 40 hours a week, are being asked to choose which person they will ditch, in order to scale back to 40 hours. This is extremely stressful for the customers who rely on these workers, and now must scramble to find new people. In the meantime where there is a worker gap, these people are faced with possible institutionalization. So while there are certainly the interests and the rights of the workers, the existing change can have very serious consequences for people with disabilities. The new overtime policy also thus far has only resulted in a few hundred out of about 5,100 eligible customers with disabilities getting exceptions to approve overtime for their workers. “Eligible” means they either have what is called an “exceptional care rate,” or a court ordered service plan, or a very high level of need. If only a few hundred of the eligible people are being approved to allow overtime for the workers, that signals a problem. And that problem lies in the fact that the state is forcing eligible customers, whose facts they already have on file, to APPLY for the overtime. Just in case, you know, they don’t actually need it. So there is a very serious disability angle here, and the best solution is NOT TO TOUCH THE PROGRAM. The overtime cost is only $7 million a year.


  4. - Quill - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:32 am:

    Everyone in the Capitol already went through the DON score battle. By now you should know that home-based services save the state thousands and thousands of dollars. Why attempt another program change that could result in forcing people into nursing homes, and forcing the state to shell out what could conceivably be well over $7 million? There is a seriously misguided fixation on chopping home services, when in reality they save the state money. It is sickening to always have to be on guard for this program. Never a day without threats. Just STOP.


  5. - Foster brooks - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:36 am:

    Try capping overtime at IDOT. Real savings to be made there.


  6. - Quill - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:37 am:

    Make that, home based services save the state thousands and thousands of dollars per year per PERSON. That’s about 27,000 people in HSP—which is a whole lot of moula. Who attacks a money saver? This is a program worth investing in.


  7. - Fromerly Known As... - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:42 am:

    Lots happening here. Reduced OT costs, but increased training costs. More jobs and members, but less $ for current members without OT. Additional caretakers for patients who may not be comfortable having a new caretaker, but theri current caretakers still work a full 40 hour week with them. No more abuse of the OT system, but fewer hours for those who were following rules.

    This does not fit either side’s ==spin== very neatly.


  8. - Albany Park Patriot - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:48 am:

    The federal policy was never intended to be used as an excuse to cut services for people with disabilities. That looks to be a very likely consequence. This isn’t right.


  9. - Notacop - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:55 am:

    Did I read that right? She is making $13 an hour to care for her own daughter? If they live in the same home, how does she determine what hours are “on the clock”? What oversight is there to this system?


  10. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:56 am:

    “why incur the expense of hiring and training more people?” Rich asks.

    It’s cheaper to pay straight time than overtime could be the answer.


  11. - Sick & Tired - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 11:59 am:

    Seconding Quill, and I add that the SEIU local cited here is well known to fight for social justice issues. Is it really that farfetched to believe that they only or primarily care about the potential money?


  12. - Earnest - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 12:02 pm:

    >You would expect the union to be OK with less overtime because that would mean more people (meaning more members) would have to be hired. But they’re on the side of those receiving care and the organizations providing it.

    A lot of the caregivers are the families, so the union seems to be listening to its members rather than acting out of self-interest, if that makes sense. Good on them.

    This all came about because of a federal rule change, so that’s not on the state. How they chose to deal with the change if a good topic for discussion.

    Creating a blanket rule about overtime and not addressing the issue of the few people taking advantage of the situation is not the way an effective business would deal with the problem.


  13. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 12:03 pm:

    ===She is making $13 an hour to care for her own daughter?===

    That’s common. She doesn’t have to go outside the home for employment while making sure her kid is properly cared for. State’s gonna pay one way or another. This way, they’re both not homeless.


  14. - Sick & Tired - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 12:05 pm:

    Also, these consumers have service plans that cap the number of hours they can receive. For the state to argue that “some people are taking advantage of the system, collecting dozens of hours in overtime pay” is interesting considering they can simply warn consumers and their provider if they go over, then discipline as necessary if they continue to provide more hours than the service plan allows. Of course, if the hours are needed, then I also believe the consumer has a right to request a reassessment of their needs.


  15. - Harry - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 12:06 pm:

    In an ideal world, maybe home care workers would be salaried professionals and salary would correspond to the real demands of the job including long hours, but in THIS world they are hourly so you have problems like OT abuse for everyone to argue over based on very few facts and lots of opinions.


  16. - Ghost - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 12:11 pm:

    these folks kicked the union out mostly.

    clamp down on fraud sounds like a magic beans solution. how does one clamp down on fraudulent reporting of hrs worked unless yoy are in the workplace monitoring? install cameras? the answer is tou limit the hrs to 40.


  17. - PublicServant - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 12:30 pm:

    ===This one is way more complicated than union issues.===

    Yes, and the fatally-flawed, simplistic “solution” put in place by the governor makes this complicated situation worse for everyone, taxpayers included. And Syverson’s “We don’t have any money to pay overtime” line is typical Raunerite spin. We get the money to pay the legitimate overtime from the same place that we get the money to pay the first 40 hours, budget, or no. Syverson, the victim, can easily become Syverson, the legislator, by having the courage to negotiate with the Dems to obtain the revenues needed to support programs like this and balance the budget to pay for all needed state programs. But that take’s courage. Something that Syverson seems to lack. Just hide your head in shame pal because you’re only a victim by choice.


  18. - Unicorn - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 12:32 pm:

    Many HSP customers require more than 40 hours of care per week. However, anyone working more than 40 hours per week - particularly as a caregiver - at higher risk of burn-out and making critical errors that may not have occurred if the person had not been working excessive hours. An HSP customer is given a set amount of “service dollars” and those dollars, sensibly should be less than the cost of institutional care. So If a customer’s service dollars equal $2600, that customer would receive 200 hours of care per month. However, factor in overtime - if one care giver is providing care of 50 hours per week the cost increases to $3860. That’s an increase of $1260 per month or over $15,000 per year. Unfortunately, when looking at ways to cut spending where dollars aren’t available, capping overtime makes sense. Capping overtime reigns in spending while NOT reducing services.


  19. - A Jack - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 12:42 pm:

    So the state is going to hire potentially 2/3 more home health workers to fill in the other 16 hours in a day, plus more for weekends? That does seem like a costly proposal.


  20. - Ghost - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 12:47 pm:

    ajack how is it more costly? overtime is paid at 1.5 times salary. you cut costs by 1/3 by hiring more workers. plus its good to have people for respite and other scenerios where a fill in is needed.


  21. - AlabamaShake - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 12:57 pm:

    **these folks kicked the union out mostly.**

    No, the didn’t. Not even close.


  22. - Quill - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 1:00 pm:

    What many outside HSP do not know is that workers are required to use an Electronic Visit Verification system to clock in and out. You must call the system when you begin the work, and call again when you end. This goes for every HSP workers, regardless of whether they live in the home or not. When people ask “where is the accountability?”, the EVV is part of the answer. It is a new system that was only fully operational within the last year or so, to combat fraud. Now think about this. This means for live-in providers, they have to call in and out literally most if not all of the time that they support their person with a disability. Live-ins are not able to just sort of estimate how many hours they provide service. They must use the EVV to verify it.


  23. - Quill - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 1:03 pm:

    Further, on the issue of live-in providers: there are plenty who are single mothers trying to support their adult child. They cannot work full time due to having to support their adult child. Compensation for HSP services to the adult child helps keep a roof over both their heads. Now consider, if that adult caregiver works 60 hours a week and has to cut back to 40, you can see how their rent or mortgage payments could become endangered, and both face the risk of homelessness and/or institutionalization for the adult child. Serious business.


  24. - Jon - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 1:16 pm:

    This may be one of the few times when it can’t be said Rauner or the GA are the bad guys. State law and the Harris v. Quinn SC case make it quite clear that the state don’t employ HSPs, the clients do. Clients have great flexibility in hiring, firing, etc. who they want, but I can’t see it within the powers of the state to permit the clients to ignore federal overtime laws.


  25. - Quill - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 1:37 pm:

    To spell it out a little more clearly for those who may not understand: the HSP customers hire, train and fire the workers. The State pays the wages, including overtime and the health benefits package. This is what “joint employer” means.


  26. - zatoichi - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 1:52 pm:

    1. The USDOL rule changes on overtime are coming fast
    2. There were just two committee hearings on SB2952 and HB5931 to raise CILA direct service providers (DSPs) minmum wage to $15 from the current average of $9.35. Why? Because nationwide and in Illinois organization simply cannot find enough people to do the work. 30% job opennings and 50% turnover in the year are not uncommon. This health care worker overtime change will simply add to the high volume of people already needed and so far not found.
    3. I thought Illinois was moving to Employment First - everyone will have a community job regardless of disability, integrated into community settings. That is what the advocates are pushing. Here is perfect example of how not everyone fits that model.


  27. - Jack Stephens - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 5:40 pm:

    @foster

    Cut OT at IDOC facilities. Break up the unions there.

    Hire unemployed Sandwich Artists from the franchise sub shoppes that’ll be closing in the college towns to make the bologna sandwiches.


  28. - Dr X - Tuesday, Apr 26, 16 @ 6:24 pm:

    What would Donna Arduin say? I think she would say that Lisa Kotsirs will get paid for 40hrs and then she can take care of her own daughter for free like other parents. I don’t see much if any sympathy from the Governor’s office for this. This is what you get when you want to disband unions in IL. Run those ads in Nov.


  29. - mitzien - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 5:01 am:

    Unicorn is so correct with the issues. HSP is a cost effective program. For the most severely disabled who have maximum hours and only one caregiver, paying the overtime of $19.50 in overtime hours could be more costly than nursing home care. Therefore, HSP would not be cost effective for Illinois taxpayers. Dept of Labor says we have to pay it even though the Smart Act was passed to help caregivers making less than or minimum wages. Since HSP pays $13.00 an hour, we went to court and lost our case. HSP is not denying services to our customers but following federal rules and trying to save our program for all users.


  30. - Small Home Health - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 8:41 am:

    Our small Home Health & Hospice, WIC, Senior Services who serve a county of 7000 are struggling. I wish they could see the people that actually elected them, how much of a struggle it is for them. This political game is hurting the people of the state.


  31. - reality - Wednesday, Apr 27, 16 @ 9:02 am:

    This program is approaching if not already reached a billion dollars to run. Like most programs there is significant fraud that happens. PA,s turning in hours they did not work clients saying they worked it and then splitting the check. EVV is a check and balance to eliminate fraud, with cell phones who says they are ever in the home. As for overtime, please show me any company that allows it’s employees to determine what over time they work and how much. All of these social service programs need to be reviewed and the fraud needs to be stopped. It would save quite a bit of money.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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