Home Healthcare Workers Plead for Overtime Pay

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People who work with the disabled, could lose their overtime pay.

“He is basically best described as an infant.”

Tim Sommer is a caretaker for his 23-year-old son, Seaver. Cerebral palsy prevents him from taking care of himself.

“I perform every other function in his life, picking him up, carrying him to the bathtub, put him in there, wash him, bathe him,” Sommer said.

He met with two democratic state lawmakers in Peoria Monday, in an effort to ensure he continues to get paid by the state for his caretaker services, and his son keeps getting help, even if it takes longer than 45 hours a week.

“Anyone could be in this situation, any family member, any loved one could be in this situation,” said Democratic State Representative Jehan Gordon-Booth.

The department of human services wants a limit on work for caretakers. It saves the state money in overtime pay, and creates jobs for new caretakers.

The DHS says less than 11 percent of people, who get care, will see a difference, but democrats say that number of hours doesn’t make sense. 

“That 11 percent is over 3,000 families, so I think they’ve realized they were too stringent when they first put out that rule,” said Democratic State Senator Dave Koehler.

“We have to remember, especially during our budgetary process that those statistics are people, they are families,” Rep. Gordon-Booth said.

Why they’re calling on Governor Rauner to sign senate bill 261. It would abolish those limitations put in place by the department, and let people with disabilities keep their caretakers regardless of hours.

“Those are still people, still families, that we as elected officials, we’re tied to them,” Rep. Gordon-Booth said.  

Why some, like Sommer, say putting a cap on his hours could not only be dangerous but also upset his son.

“You want somebody else to take care of you?” Tim asked.

“I just want you,” Seaver replied.

The Department of Human Services replied to these pleas, saying:

IDHS entered into the rulemaking process to create a rule that protects residents who depend on the Home Services program, individual providers and the taxpayers of Illinois.   IDHS has been and will continue to work in good faith with all stakeholders throughout the agreed upon rulemaking process. We carefully reviewed and took into consideration all comments received during the public comment period and incorporated many of the ideas we received into our amended proposal.

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