An estimated 2 million home health care workers in the United States provide much needed aid and care to Americans who live at home. But despite the care they render and the savings they make possible by helping their clients' and their families avoid the use of nursing homes, these workers' wages are exempted from the Fair Labor Standards Act, which guarantees covered workers both a federal minimum wage and a right to overtime pay. President Obama has proposed to bring these home care aides under the Fair Labor Standards' umbrella to assure them fairer treatment. Predictably, Republicans and business oppose Obama's proposal.
President Obama's proposal, which could become effective in mid-February after a 60-day comment period, is imminently sensible. Home health care aides were unfairly exempted from the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1974 in a lamentable ruling that categorized them as "companionship" workers on par with part-time baby-sitters.