ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Caring for a person with severe disabilities can be a grueling full-time job, but in just a few days many home healthcare providers will have to cut back their hours.
Mandy Kotsiris loves to give her mom kisses. The 29-year-old is severely autistic, mentally disabled, with sensory problems, epilepsy, and many other health issues. Caring for her is a full time job.
"I can't think of one thing that Mandy does without assistance. She can't eat on her own," Mandy’s mom Lisa said.
Lisa is with Mandy 24/7 and although she's always around she only gets paid for 43 hours of work per week as Mandy's home healthcare provider.
Starting on May 1 the state is capping everyone's hours at 40 a week.
"When I punch out the clock I don't stop caring for Mandy, which of course I wouldn't, but there are people who when they punch out, they go home and that person is alone," Lisa explained.
State Representative Litesa Wallace says the new overtime policy impacts 8,500 home healthcare providers and says cutting hours will only cause more problems in the long run.
"How do we then justify pushing a family onto other forms of public assistance because the hours they're working to care for their loved on don't count and they're not able to use those dollars to provide for the family," Rep. Wallace asked.
The cut in hours is a serious concern for the Kotsiris family. They’ll now be reimbursed for 160 hours a month for Mandy compared to the nearly 300 hours in pay they used to receive.
"When they cut like that we go right into panic because I don't know what I’m going to do," Kotsiris said.
State Senator Dave Syverson says the cuts to overtime are not by choice. He says the state has no money left to fund overtime for home healthcare providers after paying required bills.