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Missouri Legislative Committee Rejects Wage Hike for Home Care Attendants

February 2, 2016

A wage hike for Missouri home care attendants is in further jeopardy after a legislative panel has voted once again to reject it, citing a failure to comply with state rulemaking regulations.

On January 19, the House Government Oversight and Accountability Committee (GOAC) voted 7-1 against a rule change that could have potentially raised the wages for thousands of home care attendants in the state’s consumer-directed services program.

The rule change would have allowed consumers to choose to raise their attendant’s hourly wages to as high as $10.15/hour, up from the average hourly wage of $8.58, while keeping the Medicaid reimbursement rate unchanged at $15.56/hour.

The rule change originated in 2014, when the Missouri Home Care Union, working on behalf of Missouri’s home care attendants, ratified a contract that included the wage-hike provision with the Missouri Quality Home Care Council, a state government agency.

But before the contract took effect, Gov. Jay Nixon (D), a supporter of higher wages, insisted that the rule change must first be subjected to the Republican-controlled legislature — a move that advocates for home care attendants described as “unnecessary and unwise.”

The legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules rejected the wage hike in a 7-2 vote last May before the GOAC followed up with a similar rejection in January.

In turning away the wage hike, lawmakers argued that the rule change failed to comply with established legislative procedure. “Rulemaking is not a willy-nilly, anything-goes process,” Rep. Jay Barnes (R) told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on January 19.

The rule change was referred to the state Senate Committee on Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions, and Ethics on January 27.

— by Matthew Ozga

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