Search
Back

35,000 Private Home Care Workers to Have Contact Information Made Public in State Regulatory Push

Photo by Matthias Zomer

A bill awaiting a potential vote by the state legislature would force private homemaker companion agencies to submit all employee contact information to the state government, which would then be publicly available, affecting up to 35,000 employees in Connecticut’s home care industry, according to the Office of Fiscal Analysis.

According to the Office of Legislative Research, SB 1051 requires the Department of Consumer Protection “to make information on the employee’s name, identification number, agency where employed, and list of completed trainings available to the public.”

Employees’ personal information would be available through a Freedom of Information request, including full name, gender, home and mailing address, telephone number and email address.

However, the employees’ personal information would be available through a Freedom of Information request, including full name, gender, home and mailing address, telephone number and email address.

“Under the bill, if a homemaker-companion agency or employee organization requests reported information, DCP must provide it, including contact information,” the OLR writes.

Some nonprofit home care providers see the move as a thinly-veiled helping-hand to unions, which would be able to access home care employees’ contact information in an attempt to organize them.

Regina McNamara, owner and president of Always There Home Care in Plainville, submitted written testimony to the Public Health Committee saying “this bill benefits no one but unions.”

“Our caregivers provide amazing care and support. They deserve not to have their privacy destroyed, their lives disrupted simply because unions (which they neither want nor understand) need to fill their coffers,” McNamara wrote.

Deborah Hoyt, president and CEO of The Connecticut Association for Health Care at Home, wrote “Once personal information is disclosed, it is no longer protected from public disclosure and can be used for unwelcome collective bargaining recruitments, workforce recruitment by competitor homemaker companion agencies or other uses that the employee has not previously agreed to.”

Julianne Roth, board chair for The Connecticut Homemaker and Companion Association, noted the bill violates Connecticut’s own privacy statutes. 

“Connecticut personnel and privacy laws prevent employers from disclosing any individually-identifiable employee information with any outside entity,” Roth wrote.

Even the Department of Consumer Protection, which would be tasked with collecting and maintaining the information, said such a task was not possible with their current staffing levels. 

The Office of Fiscal Analysis estimates the bill would potentially cost the state $296,932 for the cost of hiring a license and application analyst, office assistant and fraud investigator.

The bill also requires those home care agencies to submit their financial statements to the state government, which would also become a matter of public record and forces uniform training requirements on home care workers, regardless of the employees’ actual responsibilities.

The legislation is the latest in a long line of state actions – some successful, others not – that attempt to further regulate private home care agencies that provide Medicaid services to the elderly and already compete against the state for both clients and employees.

Connecticut currently uses two models of in-home care as it attempts to shift more Medicaid recipients away from expensive in-patient care settings to home care: self-directed care in which the client acts as the employer of a personal care attendant or companion, and the home care agency model. 

But the state has consistently favored the self-directed care model – administered for the state by Allied Community Resources — and attempted to regulate, unionize and compete against private agencies.   

Gov. Dannel Malloy created the PCA Workforce Council by executive order in 2011, which attempted to unionize all personal care attendants but only succeeded in creating a new, optional union for PCA’s and mandating union orientation training.

Previous bills attempted to force home care agency employees to use electronic verification monitoring to track when home care workers arrived at a client’s home and how long they worked.

Last year, lawmakers approved Medicaid wage increases under the threat of strike from 8,500 PCAs represented by SEIU 1199 and employed through Connecticut’s self-directed care program. 

But since the raises were not for all PCAs paid through Medicaid funds, the move essentially pit the state and union against private agencies who have to compete for both clients and employees while receiving only a minimal increase in Medicaid funding since 2010.

Connecticut pays its self-directed care employees through Allied Community Services, which also acts as the fiscal agent for the state and also has the right to audit any private agency that provides Medicaid services.

Connecticut pays its self-directed care employees through Allied Community Services, which also acts as the fiscal agent for the state and also has the right to audit any private agency that provides Medicaid services.

Agencies believe they offer the superior model because they are able to vet and assign employees to clients based on their skill sets and are able to fill vacancies if a care-giver calls out or is on vacation.

“Establishing a directory would have a chilling effect on the ability of home care companies to attract and retain home care workers, who would understandably be reluctant to allow their home addresses to be publicly disclosed to a government agency,” the Home Care Association of America wrote.

The Fitch Files: Fifteen lawsuits filed against Connecticut restaurants by small legal firm spurred wage-tip fight at Capitol

It’s like a lesson in how to create a public-policy upheaval in Connecticut. One small law firm of five attorneys based in Hartford has successfully created a public-policy rift between Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration and the entirety of the Connecticut legislature after Lamont vetoed a bipartisan bill that would have ...

Read More

Public Option Health Insurance Bill Draws Rebuke from Insurance Companies; Raises Questions on Costs, Legal Liabilities

A proposal to create a public health plan for small employers has some lawmakers and business associations wondering why the state of Connecticut is trying to compete against the state’s flagship industry. According to the bill, the state of Connecticut – the insurance capital of the world — will allow ...

Read More

Marc E. Fitch

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

SIGN UP TO RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER