The COVID-19 recession that flipped Minnesota’s state budget this spring from a $1.5 billion surplus to a $2.5 billion deficit hurt personal-care aides who serve disabled and elderly Minnesotans on Medicaid in their homes.
After two years of work, Sen. Jerry Relph, R-St. Cloud, a retired attorney, and Rep. Jennifer Schultz, D-Duluth, a university economist, were shepherding bills to raise the reimbursement rate to home-health agencies that employ the aides, known as PCAs. That would let the businesses raise base pay for aides to $15 an hour in a tough trade that is short of workers.
The measures, which drew bipartisan support and backing from Gov. Tim Walz, were not only compassionate but economical. Without home-health care, many low income patients would go to nursing homes that cost $90,000 or more a year on the public dime, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services.