Representatives from providers of community-based disability services from across the country converged in late April on Capitol Hill to meet with their legislators and express concerns about unintended consequences of the Department of Labor’s forthcoming Overtime Exemption Rule.
The rule would update the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to more than double the salary threshold at which workers are exempt from overtime requirements, with the salary level increasing automatically over time. The rule was sent to the Office of Management and Budget for review on March 14, and so is expected to be released in its final form no later than June, and will likely give a period of just 60 days for employers to comply. Providers have long advocated for better pay for their employees, who do the challenging work of providing day-to-day services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. But because they are funded almost entirely by Medicaid, raising the threshold so significantly and so quickly will create an enormous increase in labor costs that many of them have no margin to absorb.
Providers from ten states – Maine, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kentucky, Utah, Minnesota, Oregon, Ohio, and Florida – will meet with legislators and their staffs today to discuss potential legislative and administrative solutions to help protect providers’ ability to continue offering these critical services that help people with disabilities live full lives as part of their communities.
“We are fully in support of an update to the overtime regulation, but making such a dramatic increase so quickly without additional Medicaid funding threatens the ability of providers to continue operating,” said Barbara Merrill, Chief Executive Officer of the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), a national trade association for providers of community services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. “We are glad to see our representatives in Congress taking an interest in the potential unintended consequences of this rule, and we are confident that we will be able to identify solutions to ensure that this rule does not threaten our most vulnerable citizens and the services they depend on.”
Today’s fly-in is part of a broader grassroots effort to call attention to the rule’s potential impact on disability services providers and call for solutions. To date, 988 community members have sent 3,210 messages to Congress, in addition to dozens of meetings held both in Washington and in local district offices. Hundreds of concerned citizens are participating in a national call-in today, and others are voicing their concerns on social media using the hashtag #disabilitySOS.
ANCOR is the advocate and resource for private community providers of services to people with disabilities. For more information, visit www.disabilitysos.org