Senate DFLers look at options to support disability service providers and direct care workers

DFL legislators are exploring ways to help cover fixed costs for disability service providers – who have had to close or severely limit services because of the Stay-Safe-at-Home Executive Order – and increase payment rates for PCAs and direct support workers amid COVID-19.

Many disability providers are struggling to cover their rent, utilities, and other fixed costs as a result of the pandemic. Senate DFLers have been working to find solutions to ensure the state’s day and employment service providers–who offer a range of therapies, skill building opportunities, and employment training–are given help with the fixed costs they are required to pay and are exploring options for alternative billable services. Like many businesses, the revenue of these providers has been severely reduced because of the Stay-at-Home Order, and permanent closures will leave thousands of older adults and people with disabilities with gaps in care.

PCAs are facing an increased risk during the pandemic as their work limits their options to stay at home and self-isolate. PCAs have been historically underpaid, and Minnesota was already facing a severe PCA shortage before the pandemic. In 2018, there were over 5,000 unfilled PCA jobs – jobs necessary to serve over 44,000 individuals in need of PCA services. Now, positions are even harder to fill, and options for overtime and hazard pay are limited.

As we continue to balance the needs of safety and business interests, the Senate DFL is committed to finding solutions for direct care workers and disability service providers to make sure they have the support they need to look after the vulnerable populations who rely on their services.