No more overtime for caregivers could mean less independence for people with disabilities

Published: Sep. 12, 2016 at 6:46 AM EDT
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For people living with disabilities, life presents a lot of challenges.

A waiver re-design in Virginia is having an impact of thousands of people in our hometowns.

Steve Grammer has cerebral palsy, a condition that put him in a nursing home for nine years.

Now at age 36, he's afraid he might have to go back.

Grammer is worried about a waiver re-design that now prevents "consumer- directed service caregivers" from working over 40 hours a week.

Stephen's caregiver, Lisa Conner, says the change will make it tough to attract and keep workers in her field.

"That's just going to be hard for people to find caregivers, because anybody is going to be looking for a job where they can get overtime, because that's crucial for anyone," says Conner.

Caroline Raker works for Moms in Motion, which oversees thousands of people on medicaid waivers.

She says many of them don't have friends or family to help them, when an attendant can't be there.

Raker says "And it puts people like Stephen at risk, because what would happen if he would fall, or if something would happen in the home."

Raker says there are caregivers who are passionate, and work longer hours without pay, but says that's not a realistic solution.

"A lot of people want to do this job," she says. "But they can't sustain their families and do it."

There are more than 40,000 people with medicaid waivers in Virginia.

To read more about the waiver re- design, as well as Moms in Motion, you'll find helpful links to the right of this story.