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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Information Alert: National Council on Independent Living Responds to U.S. Department of Labor Changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act

Two NCIL Members carry signs - Our Homes Not Nursing Homes and Support Independent LivingThe National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) is the longest-running national cross-disability, grassroots organization run by and for people with disabilities. Founded in 1982, NCIL represents thousands of individuals with disabilities and organizations, including Centers for Independent Living (CILs), Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs), and other organizations that advocate for the human and civil rights of people with disabilities throughout the United States.

NCIL values the critical role that attendants play in supporting people with disabilities living in the community and we support policies that acknowledge the importance of their work and improve their lives. We repeatedly expressed serious concerns that proposed changes to the companionship exemption would have unintended but serious consequences for both attendants and attendant service users. Rather than increasing the earnings of attendants, we are concerned that the rule will reduce their earnings because their hours will be capped. We also expressed concern that these rule changes would consequently reduce the available workforce and – in a number of different ways – result in the institutionalization of people with disabilities who rely on Medicaid-funded home and community based services.

During the rule-making process, NCIL also expressed particular concern that the rules would also undercut consumer-directed services and, with ADAPT, proposed a compromise that would have covered 70% of attendants while minimizing the impact on people with the most significant disabilities who use consumer directed services. 

NCIL is deeply disappointed that the Obama administration failed to address our concerns, and instead finalized a rule that without additional funding will result in caps on attendant hours and escalate a workforce shortage into a workforce crisis. Our members understand first-hand that states are continuing to cut Medicaid and simply do not have the funds to cover the additional costs associated with this rule. We do not understand how the Department of Labor could come to any other conclusion.

We were also appalled that the Department of Labor relied on the experience of Michigan in determining that the rule – as proposed – wouldn’t result in the institutionalization. According to the most recent Medicaid expenditure report, Michigan is ranked 47th among the states in the percentage of home and community based long term services and supports. Consequently, the DOL analysis based on Michigan’s experience lacks credibility.

NCIL will be holding a national conference call for our members to answer questions about these rules and explore the impact that this rule will have in the states. We urge our members to consider the impact that these rules will have and send their questions to us.

NCIL also calls upon Congress and the administration to work with our organization, our members, and the broader disability community to revisit this issue and find workable solutions that do not have the serious consequences for people with disabilities and the attendants who make community living possible.


  1. Susan Chandler says

    Well Said!!