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The average yearly salary for home health aides in 2012 was $21,830, according to the Labor Department.
Only 21 states and the District of Columbia extend minimum wage guarantees to at least some in-home care workers. Among them, 12 states have a minimum wage that is higher than the federal standard – $7.25 an hour.
The administration wants to change that, however. In December, 2011, President Barack Obama proposed a revision to the Fair Labor Standards Act that would extend both overtime and minimum wage protections to home-care workers employed by third parties, such as home care agencies. "They work hard and play by the rules and they should see that work and responsibility rewarded," Obama said.
The proposal has been under protracted review by regulators and is now being analyzed by officials at the Office of Management and Budget. Thousands of comments have been filed with the government on the plan.
When a 90-day review window came and went on April 15, key supporters of the proposal organized a conference call urging the Obama administration to expedite the change.
Bruce Vladeck, who ran Medicare and Medicaid under President Bill Clinton and is now a senior adviser at the consulting firm Nexera, pointed in that call with reporters to the political power of the home care industry, which is opposing the proposal. In a subsequent interview, he said, "Based on my understanding, the OMB folks have met with industry representatives who have raised concerns publicly about the impact on them with the proposal." He added, "It will take until somebody at the political level decides to either issue a regular order or bury it. There’s absolutely no telling."
The plan has been criticized by some Republican lawmakers and Medicaid directors. In addition, some disability advocacy groups have complained that it will increase the health care costs for people who want to remain in their homes and avoid moving to institutional care.