Change would increase wages and benefits for the workers who care for Minnesota seniors and people with disabilities
Saint Paul – The Minnesota House Health and Human Services Finance Division voted with bipartisan support Monday to move forward a bill that would increase rates for Personal Care Attendant (PCA) services in Minnesota during COVID-19. Last week the Senate HHS Reform Committee took similar action.
The bills, HF168 and SF3694, would lift wages and benefits for the workers who are ensuring Minnesota seniors and people with disabilities get the care they need to live in their homes by increasing rates by 15% during the current pandemic.
Stacie Zamora is a home care worker, Registered Nurse at United Hospital and member of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. She testified at Monday’s hearing about the need for this bill to help address the ongoing “care crisis” in our state, a situation where there aren’t enough home care workers to support Minnesotans who want to stay in their homes due to low pay and lack of benefits.
“A 15% increase to wages and benefits will give PCAs the hazard pay that all healthcare workers deserve,” said Zamora. “For the safety of [my client] Brent, his PCAs, myself, and my patients, we need this rate increase so these can be stable jobs with the tools to keep clients safe.”
This crisis has only become more acute during the COVID-19 pandemic when the low pay and lack of benefits have caused many of the people who care for our loved ones to have to choose between their health and their paycheck. This is happening at a time when it is even more critical for people with underlying health conditions to be able to stay in their homes to not risk getting exposed to COVID-19.
In a hearing on the Senate version of this bill last Wednesday, home care worker and SEIU Healthcare Minnesota member Debra Howze shared the urgency of this matter:
“It’s vital that PCAs and family caregivers get this wage increase, PPE, and sick time RIGHT NOW or the care crisis is only going to get more critical.”
Following the bipartisan votes of support, home care recipient Adrienne Kleinman shared her excitement about the momentum the bill now seems to have:
“I’m really pleased to know there’s broad bipartisan support for this bill. This increase would make it possible for me to recruit and retain the PCAs I rely on every day,” said Kleinman. “That’s a security that I need now more than ever!”
The next stop for the bills will be the Ways and Means committee in the House and the Health and Human Services Finance committee in the Senate.