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Missouri Gov. Puts Raises for Home Care Workers at Risk

January 8, 2015

The administration of Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D) has taken a step that could jeopardize an agreed-upon wage hike for home care workers.

On December 18, Nixon’s office released a statement saying that the raise — which was included in a new contract ratified by members of the home care workers’ union in early December — would need to be cleared by his administration.

“To ensure the wage range provision of the agreement has the full force and effect of the law, the administration will be implementing the wage range recommendation through an administrative rule,” the statement said.

Representatives from the Missouri Home Care Union (MHCU), which represents as many as 12,000 Missouri home care workers who provide consumer-directed care, said that they had believed that an administrative rule would not be necessary, since the wage hike does not require a raise in Medicaid reimbursement rates.

As agreed upon by the MHCU and the Missouri Quality Home Care Council, a governmental commission, the contract would have allowed consumers to choose to raise their workers’ wages to as high as $10.15 an hour. Currently, workers earn an average wage of just under $8.60 an hour, the union said.

The Medicaid reimbursement rate would remain steady at $15.56 an hour.

Despite that, however, the Nixon administration will draft an administrative rule to implement the raises — which may end up being voted down by the Republican-dominated general assembly, workers and their advocates say.

The assembly would need a two-thirds majority vote to block the measure, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on December 18.

In a statement, MHCU co-chair Jeff Mazur called Nixon’s plan “unnecessary and unwise.”

Calling home care workers’ current low wages “pathetic,” the editorial board of the Kansas City Star wrote on December 19 that it is “past time for home health aides to receive their raise, modest as it is.”

— by Matthew Ozga

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