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More on the New MN Law Governing Pay Rates for PCAs

September 20, 2011

I’m pleased with how Lifeworks, our “fiscal entity” for the disbursement of Joy’s PCA funds handles issues like this one. They are proactive (like they informed clients several days ahead of other agencies that they had cash reserves to last for a month-long state shutdown if need be) and are willing to dig for information.

This morning, they forwarded the text of the new Health and Human Services bill which reads in part (Article 7 Sec. 10.):

When the personal care assistant is a relative of the recipient,

172.34 the commissioner shall pay 80 percent of the provider rate. For purposes of this section,

172.35 relative means the parent or adoptive parent of an adult child, a sibling aged 16 years or

172.36 older, an adult child, a grandparent, or a grandchild.

Article 7 Sec. 10. 172 07/19/11 REVISOR SS/PT 11-3648

EFFECTIVE DATE. This section is effective

173.1 October 1, 2011.

Lifeworks also looked into the legal definition of “grandparent” and determined that my dad’s wife is not legally Joy’s grandmother, only Joy’s grandmother in the common (and best 🙂 ) use of that word.

But that still leaves many of my friends who employ family members under programs allowing them to do so, stuck with a statute that unfairly (in my mind) discriminates (in the common, not the legal sense) against family members employed in the care of their related children.

It seems parallel to the early days of homeschooling when government entities determined that moms and dads could not teach their own children; only strangers (licensed teachers in a bricks and mortar school setting). I don’t think that is a stretch because in the U.S.A., in traditional jobs, wage level is linked to job performance. So in creating this new statute, lawmakers seem to have taken upon themselves the responsibility for determining that relative-employees are worth less than non-relative employees in the care of children with disabilities.

Although maybe it is a stretch to attribute rational intent –beyond legislators’ desire to pass the budget package and re-open state government –to this statute. There was almost no debate on the floor of the state House or Senate on this bill, so lawmakers may have no idea about the details they signed into law.

That’s what the public comment period is for. DHS has agreed to accept public comment on the relative wage issue until 4:00 PM on Monday October 17,2011. Families are also urged to contact their legislators. Unfortunately, even if the legislature wants to amend the new statute, they cannot take any action until they reconvene in 2012.

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