GOP senators: Don’t raise home care worker wages

Republican lawmakers urged the Department of Labor (DOL) to suspend an upcoming rule that would increase the wages of home care workers to $7.25 an hour.

Sens. Mike JohannsMike JohannsTo buy a Swiss company, ChemChina must pass through Washington Republican senator vows to block nominees over ObamaCare co-ops Revisiting insurance regulatory reform in a post-crisis world MORE (R-Neb.) and Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderBipartisan gun measure survives test vote Overnight Healthcare: GOP plan marks new phase in ObamaCare fight Stoddard: The great Trump rebellion MORE (R-Tenn.) led more than 20 Republicans in writing a letter to DOL Secretary Tom Perez asking him to cancel the new rule that is slated to take effect on Jan. 1, because they said it would “dramatically increase costs” for Medicaid services.

“At a time when approximately 76 million baby boomers are reaching retirement, the federal government has a compelling interest in containing the cost of long term services and supports and expanding the low-cost care options available to this aging demographic,” the lawmakers wrote Tuesday. “We are deeply troubled that this rule runs contradictory to those goals. Therefore, we urge you to suspend the rule.”

Their letter came the same day advocacy groups expressed concern that the new rules to extend federal minimum wage and overtime pay protections to home care workers could be delayed. Currently, states aren't required to pay home care workers the minimum wage because they fall under the Fair Labor Standards Act’s “companionship exemption,” under which they are denied the benefits.

On Wednesday, the administration also issued regulations requiring companies that do business with the federal government to pay their workers at least $10.10 an hour, which would only benefit home care workers who are federal contractors once the regulation takes effect.

Democrats have been pushing legislation that would increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 because that would lift full-time minimum wage earners out of poverty. But Republicans have blocked their attempts.

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