Last week in the Joint Ways & Means Human Services subcommittee, the directors of Aging and People with Disabilities (APD) and the Office of Developmental Disabilities Services (DD) gave a presentation concerning new federal regulations. Before I share what the new regulations are, I'd like to explain what services APD and DD programs provide to Oregonians. Both programs have a long history supporting people to live independently in their own homes and communities. These programs serve over 44,000 Oregonians through the following programs:
- Adult Foster Care
- Group Homes
- Assisted Living
- Residential Care/Memory Care
- Nursing Facilities
- In-Home Care
- Employment Services
- Supporting Living Day Services
Oregon is known as a leader in these programs. Unfortunately, the Federal Government through two agencies have decided to place additional and more burdensome regulations on Oregon and the rest of the country.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued regulations on Home and Community Based Services on January 16, 2014. These regulations from CMS are intended to address rules which make congregate living settings, such as Adult Foster Homes and Assisted Living provide more personal choices and freedom for those living in those settings. Some of these rules include access to meals and snacks on a 24 hour basis, choice of roommates, choice in room décor and the ability to have a lock on the door to ensure privacy.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued regulations on the Fair Labor Standards Act October 1, 2013. These DOL regulations are targeted towards the class of workers that we know as In-Home workers or Personal Support workers. These are people whose jobs are supporting older adults and people with disabilities in the community. DOL is in part attempting to ensure the fair labor standards of overtime, hours worked and working conditions are applied to this class of workers as they are currently exempt. While they are seen as employees of the consumer, overtime and time tracking is not structured into the system.
Oregon is waiting to implement these new rules and regulations pending a federal court decision.
Recently, I had a constituent ask for assistance regarding her elderly mother. Currently, her mother is residing in a retirement community, but can only afford to live in the retirement community for so long as her fixed income allows. This is a scary situation for seniors, and just one example of why our state needs more funding to be able to protect and serve our seniors.
We need to do all we can to protect our seniors and people with disabilities. I am concerned these regulations will require additional administrative costs and red tape in reporting back to the federal government. I will keep you informed as I learn more.