In This Issue:
Looking Back, Looking Ahead 


The end of each year is an opportune time for reflection. Reflecting on the past year, measuring successes and looking to prospective opportunities that come with the new year. Looking back on this past year - my first as the HCAOA Executive Director - and when I first introduced myself to the membership, I wrote about a philosophy that underscores how the pursuit of excellence is marked by the ability to adapt to a changing environment. I can't think of a better way to sum up the year for HCAOA as we continue to execute and adapt in the face of change. The response to this year's HCAOA Annual Leadership conference was a prime example as we took on the theme "Navigating the Perfect Storm." We experienced record participation at the conference in response to an excellent program that included presentations on the latest in home care innovations, business strategies, practices and methods from industry leaders in focused keynote sessions and expert breakout sessions designed specifically for home care company owners. (see Members News article for more information)


While the annual conference was certainly a highlight from this past year, we are ending the year on a triumphant note on one of the association's highest priorities - the elimination of the companion care exemption rule. In a decision issued on December 22, the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia vacated the U.S. Department of Labor's efforts to deny third-party employers access to the existing companion care exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The decision provides hope to many who had feared they would no longer be able to afford home care services due to the Labor Department's overreach. A full summary of HCAOA's legal efforts, including the court's decision and next steps will be discussed in this issue. (see Featured article for more information)


I want to take this opportunity on behalf of the HCAOA staff to thank HCAOA President Peter Ross and the Board of Directors for their leadership over the past year, our Associate Members and sponsors for their incredible support of the organization and most importantly the HCAOA members and their clients.


Wishing you Happy Holidays and a healthy and prosperous 2015!  


In This Issue

Highlighting this issue of The Voice is our featured article on the decision in Home Care Association of America et al v. Weil et al to vacate the U.S. Department of Labor's Companion Exemption rule. In addition, in our Public Policy/Advocacy News section we provide information on our latest advocacy efforts, identify some of the highlights of this past year and what's in store for 2015. In our Members News section, we feature a summary of the 2014 HCAOA Annual Leadership Conference and provide an update on the HCAOA strategic planning process.
Featured Article

Federal Court Vacates Key Component of Labor Department FLSA Rule Set to Take Effect January 1, 2015


On December 22, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a decision in the case of the Home Care Association of America et al v David Weil, et al. The decision grants the home care community's motion for partial summary judgment and vacates the U.S. Department of Labor's efforts to deny third-party employers access to the existing companion care exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Department's rule, modifying the FLSA, was set to take effect on January 1, 2015. While we are excited about this victory for HCAOA members and the clients they serve, the decision does not vacate the entire regulation and does not resolve concerns with the Labor Department's updated definition of companion care. In his decision, Judge Richard J. Leon states "Undaunted by the Supreme Court's decision in Coke, and the utter lack of Congressional support to withdraw this exemption, the Department of Labor amazingly decided to try to do administratively what others had failed to achieve in either the Judiciary or the Congress." Judge Leon further states "The language of the exemption provision is quite clear: 'any employee' who is employed to provide companionship services, or who resides in the household in which he or she is employed to perform domestic services, is covered by the exemption."  HCAOA has long held the Labor Department's regulatory actions in this area were outside the bounds of the law. 


What's Next


HCAOA and its litigation partners will be seeking action by the court to vacate the remaining component - definition of companion care - that is scheduled to go in effect on January 1. We are looking to have a restraining order issued by the court in the short term while arguing for the entire rule to be vacated. 


Considering that HCAOA will be incurring additional costs to continue to litigate the companion care lawsuit, we are urging members to contribute funds to the HCAOA General Fund- donate HERE to help offset the continued costs to the association. Our victory this week is only the first step as we face the federal government who will bring extensive resources to continue to fight on this issue. We urge you to contribute today! 


Recognizing that this will impact how our member companies prepare for the rule's implementation, please see the following information that provides some general direction to determine whether a caregiver falls within the companionship services exemption. As a general rule of thumb, the services performed by the caregiver must meet the following requirements in order to qualify for the exemption:


1) Be primarily fellowship and protection. 


2) Not more than 20% of the total hours worked per person and per workweek may be used for providing "care."  "Care" includes providing assistance with  activities of daily living such as feeding, dressing, bathing, etc.


3) No domestic services may be performed primarily for the benefit of other members of the household.   At this time, there is no guidance on how to interpret the word "primarily" in this context.


4) No medically related services are permitted that require trained personnel (i.e., RNs, LPNs and CNAs). 


If these requirements are met, the caregiver will be exempt from minimum wage and overtime pay under the FLSA effective January 1, 2015.


The Actions Leading Up to the Court's Decision                   


The Court's decision follows a series of legal proceedings including a recent hearing in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia court based on a Request for Expedited Hearing to hear oral arguments on the case. Judge Richard J. Leon presided over the hearing held on November 19. Upon hearing the oral arguments from both sides, Judge Leon closed the proceedings by indicating that he would render a decision in December.


The Arguments in the Case

DOL attorneys argued that the Secretary of Labor has authority to define the scope of the FLSA companionship services and live-in domestic service worker exemptions, as explained by the Supreme Court in Long Island Care at Home Ltd. v. Coke. As stated in their response, "In creating these exemptions, Congress granted the Secretary broad general authority to prescribe "rules, regulations, and orders" implementing them, as well as explicit authority to "define and delimit" the scope of the companionship services exemptions." Further, they argued that the Secretary promulgated the regulations at issue in this case through notice-and-comment rulemaking, based on his determination that the existing regulatory provision regarding third party employment in the domestic service context was outdated. They concluded that because the Secretary filled a statutory gap through notice-and-comment rulemaking and did so in a reasonable manner. .


In arguments presented by HCAOA attorneys, we outlined the Department's failure to reconcile the Rule with the legislative history of the FLSA and provide an adequate justification for the Department's reversal of its longstanding enforcement of the FLSA exemptions. We emphasized that the DOL has arbitrarily ignored or improperly discounted the facts underlying the prior policy of exempting home care companion and live-in services. Further, we argued that the Rule capriciously undermines the intent of Congress to encourage deinstitutionalization of care, control costs of care, and maintain continuity of care for a longer number of hours each day. Substantial evidence in the record strongly indicated that each of these factors will be adversely impacted by the Rule. We concluded that the "...Court should find that the Department has failed to justify the new Rule with substantial evidence in the record as a whole, and the new Rule must be found to be arbitrary and capricious as a result."


We supplemented our primary legal arguments with specific concerns in response to the DOL Policy Statement issued on October 9. Specifically, we argued the DOL's Policy Statement confirms that a broad cross-section of organizations, including Medicaid directors, directors of developmental disabilities services, organizations representing people with disabilities and several state governments, agree with us that the new Rule will have serious adverse impacts on the provision of home care and should at a minimum be postponed from taking effect.  We further argued that the Policy Statement highlights the need for expedited consideration in our call for a summary judgment, necessitating the request for the expedited hearing before the Court.

2014: A Year of Heightened Advocacy


HCAOA wants to thank its members for their advocacy efforts during 2014.  You helped address concerns at the state and federal level on a range of important issues to the home care community. Those efforts helped to raise the visibility of home care service providers and also began a dialogue with state and federal officials on a range of important issues.


In 2014, you responded to alerts on a range of state and federal issues.  Some 3,657 messages were sent via HCAOA's grassroots advocacy system in 2014.  This covered a range of issues including the FLSA Rule, federal worker misclassification legislation, employer-related provisions of the health reform law, state accreditation requirements, and issues related to the Domestic Worker Act that found its way into state and federal legislation.


The Year Ahead


The political changes that have taken place at both the state and federal level are likely to create a new environment for legislative activity in Congress and in states around the country. HCAOA is preparing for this new era with an agenda to address the short and long-term needs of the home care community. 


The public policy agenda for the HCAOA for the coming year will include:


Federal Level

  • Support Home Care Federal Tax Policy Legislation
  • Support Worker Misclassification Legislation
  • Support Employer-Related Reforms to the Affordable Care Act
  • Support Legislative Reforms to the Fair Labor Standards Act Relating to Domestic Worker Services
  • Support Efforts to Address Home Care Workforce Shortages


State Level

  • Promote a Home Care Value Resolution
  • Promote State Licensure for Home Care Providers
  • Provide HCAOA Members with Issue Specific Guidance on Critical State Legislative/Regulatory Concerns, to include:
    •    Domestic Worker Act
    •    Accreditation
    •    Registries

Highlights of the 2014 4th Quarter


Congress Enacts ABLE Act as Part of Tax Extender Bill


On the evening of December 16, 2014, the U.S. Senate cleared a $41.6 billion package of temporary tax breaks by a vote of 76-16, closing out the 113th Congress.  Senate passage, following House passage of the bill (HR 5771) earlier this month, revives the tax credits for only the 2014 tax year, leaving some lawmakers pledging to revive plans to build a long-term package next Congress into an ambitious tax overhaul effort. The package includes about 50 tax breaks large and small, including the research and development credit for business, deductions for state sales taxes, and many others.


The package includes a House-passed measure creating tax-free accounts for individuals with disabilities that have been compared to 529 accounts that exist for higher education.  Allowable uses of funds saved in these new ABLE accounts (named for the title of the House bill) can be used for costs including personal support services.  HCAOA believes these tax preferred accounts can assist individuals and their families in addressing the costs of home care services.  HCAOA endorsed this legislation and urged its enactment.


Please click HERE for more information on the tax extender provisions and the new ABLE Accounts. 


Federal and State Election 2014 Wrap Up


While many eyes were on the Congressional election results, the states were busy deciding the fate of over 6,000 state legislative seats and over 30 gubernatorial races. The importance of these midterm elections cannot be overstated. The "red wave" that swept Congress is also evident at the state level. Republicans controlled 59 of 98 partisan legislative chambers prior to the election. Republicans now control 67 legislative chambers, five more than their previous record, and will hold supermajority status in at least 16 states. In 24 states the Republicans will now hold control of both chambers and the Governor's office. Democrats have control of the legislature and executive office in only six states, by comparison.


In Congress, Republicans have had a remarkable change of fortune moving from 45 Senate seats in the 113th Congress to 55 seats in the forthcoming 114th Congress. Republicans made historic gains in the House of Representatives and will enjoy their largest majority since prior to the Great Depression with 247 members compared to 188 Democrats. 


Republican control of the Senate could prove helpful as HCAOA presses Congress for changes to the employer mandate provisions of the Affordable Care Act, and seeks relief from the Obama Administration's new companion care exemption rules which will be implemented as of January 1, 2015.


In addition, the 2014 elections contained several ballot initiatives of significance. Five states took up the issue of minimum wage.  These included Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, Nebraska, and South Dakota. All five states approved the ballot measure providing for gradual increases to the state's minimum wage in 2015 and beyond.

2014 HCAOA Annual Leadership Conference Exceeds Expectations


Over 300 participants traveled to Kansas City for the HCAOA Annual Leadership Conference. This year's conference offered numerous presentations tackling challenges facing home care providers culminating in the "Perfect Storm." The conference provided in-depth information into critical policy issues such as the Affordable Care Act and the Companion Care exemption final rule. In addition, participants left the conference with valuable information on current issues, trends, and strategies that are charting the course for the home care industry.


Throughout the conference, over 40 leading vendors exhibited their latest offerings supporting member home care providers across the country. Participants took the opportunity to visit the exhibit hall to learn the newest competitive strategies, find out what's cutting-edge, and used the venue to network with key innovators across the home care industry.


As part of every Annual Conference, the HCAOA conducts its annual business meeting that includes the President's Report, the annual HCAOA Awards Ceremony and Board of Director Elections. 

  • HCAOA President Peter Ross outlined his vision for the organization and how HCAOA can become more relevant to the home care industry.
  • The HCAOA Caregiver of the Year Award recognizing a caregiver who demonstrates extraordinary commitment to the delivery of care to clients and their families. HCAOA congratulates this year's award winner Mary Hartsock of Right at Home. 
  • The 2014 Allen Hager Award for Distinguished Service in Legislative Advocacy was awarded to Mike Rohan of All Trust Home Care.
  • HCAOA congratulates Mike Rohan, Linda Grigerek and Kris Frank as the newest members of the HCAOA Board of Directors.  These new Board Members were officially installed at the November meeting of the HCAOA Board of Directors. 


The Conference was highlighted by the introduction of a custom designed mobile conference app that provided for an exceptional experience for participants. The app featured the conference schedule, speaker and vendor information, and provided a social media platform for participants to share their experiences throughout the conference. 


We would like to thank all of the sponsors, exhibitors, speakers and of course, the attendees, for contributing to the success of the conference!


We invite you to attend the 2015 HCAOA Annual Leadership Conference that will be held in Washington, DC September 27-30, 2015. Please save the date and stay tuned for more information as we begin planning for next year's conference!


Members Contribute Valuable Input towards Strategic Planning Process


As part of the highlighted activities of this year's Annual conference, HCAOA members participated in the Peer to Peer Roundtable discussions to further refine information gathered from our recent HCAOA Membership survey that will contribute to the development of the HCAOA Strategic Plan.  The Membership Survey was structured so that HCAOA staff and leadership would better understand the needs of our members and to provide more relevant and timely member benefits. The Round table discussions included information on the following areas of strategic focus: Membership Benefits, Education/Training, Advocacy, Public Awareness, Certification, Research/Data Collection, and Chapter Development. Subsequently, input from the Peer to Peer Discussions will be further refined and included in HCAOA's strategic planning documents being considered by the HCAOA Board of Directors. The Association's strategic plan sets the course for the organization and ultimately helps to shape the future of the industry. The goal is to picture what the industry can become, and how the strategic goals and activities of the HCAOA will impact on shaping the future of the industry. 


Voting Members 

ActiveCare Home Care


Always Best Care of Greater Boston

Anchor Home Health Care 

Assisting Hands Hinsdale
Assisting Hands of Boca Raton and Delray Beach

Charism Home Care Services



Cherished Companions Homecare, LLC


1st Choice Home Care, Inc.

Comforcare Home Care



ComForcare Senior Services


Comforcare Senior Services - Palm Beach Gardens



Comfort Care-Grosse Pointe


Empower Home Care

Extended Family



FirstLight HomeCare-McHenry


Helping Hands Homecare-Clark, New Jersey


Home Care Assistance of New Jersey

Home Companion Solutions


Home Instead Senior Care - Gainesville, FL


Home Instead Senior Care - Naperville, IL

Home Sweet Home In-Home Care 

Integrity Home Care-Springfield, Missouri 


Lutheran Homes of SC 




My Life Home Healthcare 

Promed Agency 


Responsive Home Health 


Senior Home Care - Tucson 


Snyder Southeast Nebraska Services 

Southern Crescent Care 


St Rita's Private Duty Services



Synergy HomeCare of Central IL 



TLC Home CareWhole Life Home Care
Associate Members

W.A. George Insurance Agency

Chicagoland's Seniors Blue Book

Home Care Association of America
412 First Street SE, 
Suite 3
Washington, DC 20003


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