Monday, April 6, 2015

Schmidt asks federal appeals court to void home health regulations

TOPEKA, KAN. – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt today asked a federal appeals court to reject new U.S. Department of Labor regulations that threaten the availability of home health care services in Kansas.

Schmidt has asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to affirm a lower court ruling that has blocked the new regulations. In a friend-of-the-court brief, Schmidt argued that the rules requiring overtime compensation for home health care workers and narrowing the services that can be provided by these workers overstepped the agency’s legal authority. Schmidt was joined on the brief by eight other state attorneys general.

“Once again a federal government agency is issuing regulations in an area that Congress gave them no authority to regulate,” Schmidt said. “These new rules will put a tremendous burden on Kansas senior citizens and their families who hire home health workers, and the result in parts of Kansas will be that needed services become less available. This rule also amounts to another unfunded mandate on the states, which fund a significant number of home health care workers through their Medicaid programs.”

In their brief, the attorneys general argue in support of the plaintiffs in the case that Congress specifically exempted home health care workers from federal overtime rules. They also argue that the new rules regarding the types of services home health care workers may provide undermines Congress’s policy objective of allowing seniors to receive care in their homes to avoid needing more costly institutional care.

Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services Secretary Kari Bruffett supported the attorney general’s decision to file the brief.

“These are important issues for the many frail elderly and disabled Kansans who rely on the services of home health care workers to maintain their independence at home and remain in their home communities,” Bruffett said.

The case is Home Health Care Association of America, et. Al. v. Weil, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Case No. 15-5018.

Oral argument in the case is scheduled for May 7. Schmidt was joined on the brief by the attorneys general of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Dakota, Texas, Tennessee and Wisconsin.