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The Minnesota PCA Service is not a program per se, but rather a different way to receive aging social services. Participants hire a Personal Care Assistant (PCA) who helps them to manage their activities and instrumental activities of daily living, such as bathing, eating and basic mobility. The funds to pay for the PCA come from the different health service groups.
Participants have a great deal of flexibility regarding whom they hire to help with their activities of daily living. Friends, neighbors and even some family members can be employed as the Personal Care Assistant or, essentially, a caregiver. While adult children can be compensated as personal care assistants for the participating elders, the spouses and legal guardians are barred from being paid for this role.
This concept is based on the Cash and Counseling model, where individuals are provided with access to cash and they receive the counseling they require to arrange their own care services. By transferring the administration of care services to the individual, the state saves money on administration costs and the individual gains flexibility and control
It should be noted that Cash and Counseling—in more modern language—is called consumer or participant direction. One might also hear the PCA Program referred to as a PAS (Personal Assistance Service) Program and PCA Choice.
To be eligible for a Personal Care Assistant, one must participate in one of the following four programs:
1) Minnesota Medicaid (also known as Medical Assistance)
2) Elderly Waiver
3) Minnesota Alternative Care
4) Minnesota Managed Care program such as Senior Health Options or Disability Health Options.
These programs all generally require that the individual have a low annual income and be at least 65 years old or disabled. Individuals with high medical expenditures may qualify through the Medically Needy pathway for Medical Assistance. In addition, participants must be assessed by a social worker with the county department of health to have a need for personal care assistance.
Due to the variety of providers and choices, getting started with PCA Choice is somewhat complicated. The easiest way to do so is by contacting your county health office. A complete list of county contacts, office locations and telephone numbers is available here.
Complete information about the program is also available in the downloadable PCA Consumer Handbook (92-page PDF).