On March 11, The Hill published an op-ed authored by ANCOR CEO Barbara Merrill. ANCOR's press release on the op-ed is below.
Overtime Exemption Rule Threatens Future of Disability Services
Washington, DC – The Department of Labor is expected to release a finalized regulation this spring that would significantly increase the number of workers receiving overtime pay by more than doubling the wage threshold at which workers are exempt.
The coming rule, known as the Overtime Exemption Rule, has been the subject of much debate, but one potential impact of the rule that is often overlooked is the serious consequences it could have for providers of community-based supports for people with disabilities. Since these providers are funded almost entirely by Medicaid and have no control over their rates, implementing the rule as currently written without any additional Medicaid funding could pose a serious threat to their ability to provide services to the people who rely on them.
In a new op-ed in The Hill, ANCOR CEO Barbara Merrill highlights the potential unintended consequences of the rule and makes a compelling case for congressional action to protect providers’ ability to continue offering these critical services.
The full op-ed is available here, and excerpted below:
“Most providers, overwhelmingly nonprofits, are funded almost entirely by state and federal Medicaid dollars. They have no power to negotiate higher rates, even as operating costs rise and demand for services increases. As a result, most states have seen little to no increase in funding for these programs in the last decade, with many states being forced to cut funding during the Great Recession. This means that providers have almost no margin to absorb cost increases and no ability to raise wages without dramatically cutting back the services they provide.
Without additional funding, the added costs of the Overtime Exemption Rule would leave many providers with the Hobson’s choice of cutting the wages of their non-exempt staff, including direct support professionals, serving fewer people, or both. At a time when more people than ever rely on these services to continue to live in their communities – with thousands more on waiting lists across the country – this would be devastating.
ANCOR agrees that the Overtime Exemption Rule should be modernized and the salary level increased, but unless it is accompanied by additional funding for providers or approached more gradually, it will harm the very workers it seeks to protect, as well as the people who rely on them. That is why we are calling on Congress to pass legislation to provide states with temporary assistance to increase Medicaid funding support for providers accordingly so that they can afford to comply with this rule and other unfunded mandates like it. Until adequate funding can be provided for publicly funded providers to comply with this rule, we urge the Department of Labor to implement a more manageable threshold and a rule that increases the salary threshold more gradually.”