Missouri home care workers ask for higher wages

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JEFFERSON CITY - Home care attendants and consumers met at the Missouri State Capitol Monday afternoon to push for a wage increase for workers.

This comes ahead of a scheduled hearing from the legislature's Joint Committee on Administrative Rules set for Tuesday.

The state's Quality Home Care Council ratified an agreement that would set pay for home care attendants between $8.50 and $10.15 per hour.

Elizabeth Travis is among the workers asking for the state to allow an increase in pay.

"I'm the one that helps these people live more independently," Travis said. "They need me, and they want me, and they want to pay us all more."

Travis said it's an important issue she thinks lawmakers aren't paying enough attention to.

Marilyn Miller-Smith worked as a home care attendant for more than two decades and is now under the care of one in her own home. She supports the pay increase.

"We are asking the committee not to stand in the way of this rule," Miller-Smith said. "It respects our voice as consumers and allows us to give our attendants a modest increase in pay."

Companies that contract out home care workers are referred to as vendors. These vendors have expressed concerns that a pay increase would cause them financial problems.

The state legislature currently budgets $15.56 per hour budgeted for vendors out of Medicaid funds. That money is then split between the attendant and the vendors.

Attendants at the rally said clients who hire workers do not have a choice in how much the workers are paid. They said the pay rate is dictated by the vendors.

Travis said if the committee moved forward with the proposal, it would not affect taxpayers. She said it would be part of the $15.56 an hour already set aside for the vendors.

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