Rick Frame, 59, has been paralyzed since 1999. He became paralyzed following a motorcycle accident. He requires help with activities of daily living, such as eating and bathing.
Angela Blankenship is Frame’s full-time PCA. For the required work, Blankenship is paid $9.75 an hour by Texas Medicaid. Other personal care attendants make as little as $8.11 an hour, the program’s starting wage. $8.11 is less than a dollar above the minimum wage in Texas. Texas’s minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, which has remained unchanged since 2009.
So far this year, budget writers in both chambers have not even begun to raise the $8.11-an-hour minimum wage for “community care attendants” to a level remotely comparable with fast-food franchises, which can pay up to $20 per hour.
Medicaid, the state-federal program for low-income pregnant women, the elderly, and the disabled, covers in-home services, while in most circumstances, Medicare does not. More than 302,000 Texans receive assistance from attendants provided by Medicaid.
Lawmakers are receiving numerous requests for how they should spend a record-breaking $32.7 billion revenue surplus, which is primarily the result of Texas’ quick economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic increased inflation and GOP leaders’ hoarding of federal pandemic money.
Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, said it’s wrong to pay attendants who help Texans stay in their homes such low wages. He believes the state should use its surplus funds to catch up.
Kimberly Crawford lives with her parents in Paris, TX. Crawford was born in Louisiana and adopted at age three. She was born nearly four months early and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
The family moved back to their hometown in Texas a decade ago. They were told that Kimberley would qualify for a Medicaid waiver. Texas offers six different Medicaid waivers that allow people to receive services in their homes. Examples of covered services under a Medicaid waiver include durable medical equipment, home healthcare, home-delivered meals, and hospice care.
There are currently over 170,000 people on the waiting list statewide, and it can take over a decade to reach the top and receive services. While they wait, families are frequently forced to admit a loved one into a residential facility, spend their own money on care, or, in some situations, struggle without care.
Kimberly receives services through a Medicaid waiver for medically fragile children. However, those services will end in August when she turns 21. She is now on a waiting list for an adult waiver. It will be years before she receives services again.
Medicaid must be expanded, and waiting lists must be eliminated. Without Medicaid, people are routinely forced into dangerous situations. Home- and Community-Based Services are essential because people will die without them.
Garrett, Robert T. “Elderly, Disabled Texans Wanting to Stay in Their Homes Threatened by Low Home Care Pay.” The Dallas Morning News, DallasNews Corporation, 31 Mar. 2023, https://www.dallasnews.com/news/2023/03/30/elderly-disabled-texans-wanting-to-stay-in-their-homes-threatened-by-low-home-care-pay/.
“Home- and Community-Based Services.” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, United States Department of Health and Human Services, https://www.cms.gov/outreach-and-education/american-indian-alaska-native/aian/ltss-ta-center/info/hcbs.
Plohetski, Tony. “’I Fear for Her Life’: Tens of Thousands of Disabled Texans Await Services for Years.” KVUE, Tenga Inc., 8 Mar. 2023, https://www.kvue.com/article/news/investigations/defenders/disabled-texans-waitlist/269-bb5ba6f6-3ebd-4d6a-9b42-7fe252a8dfb0.
“Texas Minimum Wage Law.” Texas Workforce Commission, The State of Texas, https://www.twc.texas.gov/jobseekers/texas-minimum-wage-law.