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Family Caregiver Wages Can Be Cut in Minnesota, Judge Rules

March 28, 2012

Minnesota can enact a proposed 20 percent cut on the wages of paid family caregivers, according to a March 23 ruling by a district judge.

The cuts would lower caregivers’ hourly wages to $9, from approximately $11, and could affect as many as 7,000 family caregivers who serve as personal care assistants (PCAs) to low-income relatives and receive payment through Medicaid.

Originally enacted by the state legislature last year to help close a $5 billion budget gap, the cuts are expected to save the state just $17 million if they take effect.

Last fall, after eight home care agencies filed suit against the state, Ramsey County District Judge Dale Lindman ruled to temporarily block the cuts from taking effect. In his March 23 decision, however, Lindman reversed his own decision, giving the cuts his stamp of approval.

Hope for Delayed Enforcement

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (D) has voiced opposition to the wage cuts, and advocates — including many home care agencies — hope he will delay their enforcement until the end of the current legislative session.

Tim Plant, the executive director of Healthstar Home Health in North St. Paul, told the Minnesota Star Tribune, “We disagree with the judge. The law requires unequal pay for equal work, and some of these PCAs are very low-income. They can’t afford the pay cut.”

Lindman, however, said that he agreed with the legislature’s assessment that the PCAs have “moral obligations” to care for their relatives, and would continue to do so despite being paid a lower wage.

The eight home care agencies say they plan to appeal Lindman’s decision.

— by Matthew Ozga

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