On May 12, the Missouri General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules stopped a rule that would have given 50,000 workers in Missouri’s consumer-directed services program a wage increase of up to 32 percent.
This saga is now in its seventh year. It began in 2008 when unions worked to pass a ballot measure promoting collective bargaining for personal care attendants. After multiple court challenges, the union was finally certified and reached a collective bargaining agreement with the state in October 2014 that set wages at $8.50 to $10.15 per hour. Because the payments to workers don’t come directly from the State, but from “vendors” who administer the program, a rule promulgated by the Department of Health and Senior Services was necessary to impose the increased wages on vendors. Many of them opposed the rule, arguing that the rule is not authorized and violates state statutes. The rule’s fiscal note said the annual impact on vendors would be as much as $42 million, and the vendors assert that estimate is too low.
The Committee’s May 12 action stops the rule for at least six months. The Committee vote was bipartisan, with six republicans and two democrats voting to disapprove the rule. The rule is now stayed, and the full General Assembly will consider it when it reconvenes in January 2016.
Husch Blackwell Jefferson City partners Harvey Tettlebaum and Lowell Pearson testified against the rule on behalf of the Missouri Health Care Association, the Missouri Alliance for Home Care and vendor Integrity Home Care of Springfield, Missouri.