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REPORT: Massachusetts Should Professionalize PCA Jobs

May 24, 2016

Massachusetts should seize the opportunity to professionalize personal care attendants (PCAs) by improving their benefits, training, and career advancement opportunities, a report published by the research group Manatt Health argues.

The report, published earlier this month, suggests steps to improve long-term services and supports (LTSS) for Massachusetts consumers who direct their own home care. MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program, spends $4.5 billion each year on LTSS — nearly 12 percent of the state’s total yearly budget.

The consumer-directed program, strained by “increasing demand for LTSS, rising costs, and building pressure on the workforce…may be providing suboptimal care while simultaneously creating serious budget pressures on the MassHealth program,” the report says.

The report’s authors go on to list seven “reform areas,” specially targeted to seize Massachusetts’s “unique opportunity to address these issues and become a bellwether state on LTSS transformation.”

One of the reform areas focuses on enhancing “direct-care workforce capacity.” The authors argue that the state must “support or facilitate efforts to professionalize the LTSS workforce,” specifically by offering benefits such as paid sick leave and health insurance, offering enhanced training, and developing career ladders.

The report approvingly cites PCAs’ recent efforts to secure a wage increase to $15/hour, which will take effect by 2018.

Manatt Health prepared its report on behalf of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation.

— by Matthew Ozga

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