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Federal Court Ruling May Limit Home Health Care In Kansas

A recent ruling by a federal appeals court could affect whether some elderly and disabled Kansans continue to receive the services they need to remain in their homes and stay out of nursing facilities.

This is another case that pitted the Obama administration against states led by conservative Republicans.

The decision clears the way for the Department of Labor to implement new rules requiring state Medicaid programs to pay home health workers minimum wage and overtime

Kansas was one of eight states that sought to block implementation of the new wage and hour rules. State officials say the budget for the state Medicaid program known as KanCare doesn't include the $12 million needed to pay the higher wages, so they say services may now have to be reduced. Elderly and disabled Kansans who need around-the-clock care could be most affected by any reduction in services.

Supporters of the ruling say home health workers deserve the same protections as other workers, and they say that Kansas and the other states opposing the changes have had plenty of time to budget for them.

Jim McLean is a reporter with Heartland Health Monitor.