Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Minnesota Legislature

The way PCAs are paid could be changed to improve wages

Jeff Bangsberg, board chair for Metropolitan Center for Independent Living, testifies in support of a bill sponsored by Rep. Jennifer Schultz, right, to establish a payment rate methodology for personal care assistance services. Photo by Andrew VonBank

Personal care assistants help people who are elderly or have a disability remain in their homes, with their families, and out of high-cost institutional settings. The work is difficult, but can also be very rewarding, and makes a big difference in the lives of other people.

But low Medical Assistance reimbursement rates mean that few PCAs can afford to remain in the field, and the state’s rate-setting system stymies community attempts to deal with changes in the economy, said Rep. Jennifer Schultz (DFL-Duluth).

She sponsors HF1225, which would establish a new payment methodology for the Medical Assistance Personal Care Assistance program that would increase PCA wages and keep better pace with the economy.

The House Long-Term Care Division held the bill over as amended for possible inclusion in the division report. A companion, SF968, is sponsored by Sen. Jerry Relph (R-St. Cloud) and awaits action by the Senate Human Services Reform Finance and Policy Committee.

“PCA services are reimbursed at a historical rate, established years ago,” and increase or decrease based on the state’s finances. Those rates are now so low that it’s hard to recruit or keep PCAs, Schultz said.

This is especially dangerous in a field where continuity is vital to understand the needs of clients, provide comfort and security, and to detect health risks before they develop into emergencies, said Dena Belisle, president of the Minnesota First Provider Alliance.

“There is nothing more frustrating than having to tell a client that we cannot help them,” she said. “We can’t afford to wait any longer. Clients’ health and safety is at risk.”

The bill would create a more “responsive” program to recognize the actual cost of PCA services, set rates using Minnesota-specific data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and incorporate a competitive workforce factor.

The changes would go into effect January 2020, or upon federal approval, and the data would be updated every two years, so the rates could keep pace with industry changes.

The Medical Assistance PCA program does not fall under the Disability Wavier Rate System, so reforms made in that area have not expanded to apply to all people working as PCAs, said Jeff Bangsberg, chair of the Metropolitan Center for Independent Living.

Schultz said HF1225 would provide more consistency between the programs.

Because of technical amendments that are still underway, an exact cost for this change is still unavailable, said Doug Berg from the nonpartisan House Fiscal Analysis Department.

 


Related Articles


Priority Dailies

Governor signs special session budget bills into law
One week after a marathon special session that saw lawmakers pass most of the major budget bills needed to fund the state’s government over the next two years, Gov. Tim Walz signed the legislation into law.
After sunrise, the sun sets on 2019 special session
It took a grueling special session that stretched past sunrise, but Minnesota lawmakers completed their work early Saturday morning on passing a new two-year state budget.
House DFL outlines $47.8 billion 2020-21 spending proposal
The plan, dubbed the “Minnesota Values Budget,” would increase spending by $416.9 million over the 2020-21 biennium’s projected base budget.
Budget forecast: Projected surplus drops by almost $500 million, still tops $1 billion
The state has a $1.05 billion projected budget surplus for the upcoming biennium, Minnesota Management and Budget officials announced Thursday.
Walz budget would raise gas tax, emphasize education, health care
Education, health care and community prosperity are key targets for funding in the 2020-21 biennial budget proposed by Gov. Tim Walz.
Committee deadlines for 2019 unveiled
Legislators and the public officially know the timeline for getting bills through the committee process.

Minnesota House on Twitter