On July 1st, funding for disabled people's heath was slashed yet again by Statute 256B.0659 subdivision 11, signed into law by Governor Dayton. In the last year, after PCA hours had been limited, assessments by agencies like AXIS health care had been done, and hours had been cut, PCA services were again attacked, partly because the common assumption is that PCAs are petty and the field is full of fraud.
On September 1st, the state of Minnesota was set to save money by cutting pay rates for PCAs across the board by 1.5%. Some PCA agencies, like Custom Care and People Enhancing People, have not cut wages but have absorbed the loss of reimbursement from the state. All agencies have to deal with additional funding cuts, making it especially hard for nonprofits like PEP.
On October 1st, the reduced pay rate for PCAs related to their clients went into effect. An additional 20% pay cut, which some agencies have not been able to absorb into their budgets because they lack the reimbursement from the state & from matching Medicaid funds to stay afloat.
According to the Minnesota Disability Law Center,
"persons who live in rural areas, immigrant/refugee families whose first language
is not English, other minority communities will be particularly hurt by this harsh
cut. The 20% cut will reduce the modest earnings of many family members,
including many women in their 50’s and 60’s who care for their adult sons and
daughters with significant disabilities for many hours beyond those authorized to
be paid as PCA services. Families who have cared for a loved one with total and
permanent disabilities have all slid down the economic ladder, sacrificed
personally and economically, and provided reliable, loving care at a much lower
rate and higher quality than would otherwise be available. This cut saves the state
about $23 million and results in a PCA service cut of $46 million due to the loss
of federal Medicaid matching funds."
There has been no word as to WHY the people who likely work the most, beyond billable hours, and care the most about their clients are the hardest hit. The dollar amount is significant to the state, but what about families that will struggle to work other jobs, raise their income, and bring in new staff who might not care as much?
PEP's role in selecting and training PCAs becomes ever more important.
The 1.5% provider rate cut will change in 2 years, when the state expects to have the money to pay PCAs only
1% less than usual. It's still less than they deserve for hard work that is now more rushed than ever. Many disabled people were reassessed & found to have only one ADL that they need help with, alotted only half an hour per day to get help, and forced to ask their staff to work very, very part-time for low pay. That does not attract or motivate high-quality staff.
"Another cut of 1.67% is slated to begin July 1, 2012 if
DHS is not allowed to implement tightened criteria for nursing facility eligibility,"
states the Minnesota Disability Law Center.
The public comment period on these changes continues and it's not too late to call your state legislator and demand better funding! A bill regarding these same topics was introduced but not voted on this year, meaning that next year these issues will come up again for vote & consideration. The state must get its priorities straight, or more costs and poorer health overall will result.