When the state makes you the bad guyOct 14 06:07
PCAs are critical to the independence of many. And if you have a great group of them like I do, you want to shower them with appreciation whenever you can. So when the state cuts your PCA hours and lowers their wages because of spending cuts, how do you inform them of the bad news in the best way possible? I just had to go through this and I must say, I felt like the biggest jerk in the room.
We all know PCA cuts are rampant right now across the US. I’m far from the only one having to deal with this. Everyone on Medicaid is. Bad news regarding jobs seems to be coming from every direction. Nearly everyone I know has experienced some kind of employment cutbacks since this annoying Recession has hit. It was just a matter of time before PCAs saw their wages slashed as well.
I will admit that the PCA cuts were at least reasonable. They could’ve been a lot worse, especially according to what I’ve heard is happening in other states. Here in Minnesota they lowered the top PCA wage from $11/hour to $10/hour, and in my situation, they cut two hours from my daily allotment. And I also heard cut-backs were much worse for anyone who needs 24/7 care at home. To sum up: They completely got rid of 24/7 in-home care. Can you imagine the stress of such a thing if you’re a vent quad?
Needless to say, I struggled with the responsibility of being the “bad guy” and the one who had to tell them about the cut-backs: “Hello Savior to my Independence, I know you’re the greatest PCA ever, but sorry, your wages have to be cut.“ Even though it wasn’t my decision, I still felt like a huge jerk for having to be the one to inform them of the cuts. I could see the disappointment spread across their faces a they feigned, “No big deal,” after I told them. They don’t deserve less income. If anything, they deserve more.
I suppose this life experience is something bosses know all too well: Being told from upper-management to let people go. Man ’o man, having a disability is hard enough. Having to deal with all this stressful HR bullcrap is like the frosting on a rotten cake.
How have you dealt with PCA cut-backs?
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1. anonymous | Oct 14 06:56
It's not the state cutting to $10-11. The agencies are choosing to go that low based on the cut to the reimbursement rate they get. The agencies are still getting paid over $11, but to stay afloat, some agencies feel they have to go to $10-11. And, a good agency would notify the PCAs of their wage cuts, and not have the client do it. Mine sent out letters. As far as cuts to your hours go, being on a ventilator you should not have received any cuts to your hours. Obviously the nurse doing the assessment didn't provide enough documentation of your health status and needs. It can be appealed. You're also probably eligible for (more) nursing hours. Between a nurse and a PCA you can get upto 28 hours a day.
2. Tiffiny | Oct 20 01:46
@anonymous: yeah you are right actually. the agencies reflect the changes in the wages.
3. salliemaetody | Feb 04 08:47
My pca's are paid from the state, Ohio, through the Medicaid waiver program. They have endured 2 wage cuts in 4 months at the end of the year when things are more stressful financially. I have been making the statement, "they(pca's) deserve a raise for what they do..." and I was making this statement back in the 80's b4 cuts were becoming the norm instead of increases. How do you receive 24 hour care? I have several friends that could be home with those hours of help, much less how would you qualify for 28 hours of care a day?
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Tiffiny Carlson is freelance writer and writes the “SCI Life” column for New Mobility. She's also a C6 quad from a diving accident that occurred when she was 14 years old. A lifelong resident of Minneapolis, Tiffiny has been a writer in the disability community for over 10 years and writes for several publications and blogs, as well as her personal blog BeautyAbility. Her work has also appeared in mainstream publications such as Nerve.com and Playgirl.