Last week, Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) introduced the Personal Needs Allowance (PNA) Modernization Act (H.R. 3853) which would double the PNA for Medi-Cal beneficiaries living in a nursing facility and allow them to better meet their basic personal care needs. This is long overdue, as the minimum federal PNA has stayed the same since 1988 ($30 for an individual and $60 for a couple). (Note, some states have increased the federal PNA amounts; California increased it slightly by $5.)
When in a nursing home, Medi-Cal beneficiaries are only allowed to keep the allotted PNA to cover their personal expenses; all the rest of their income goes to cover their nursing home costs. Therefore, with no increase in the PNA amount for over 30 years, the purchasing power has gone down over 50%. This deprives nursing home residents of their ability to cover their basic needs, such as toothpaste, other toiletries, a haircut, a magazine subscription, etc, and forces them to rely on the good will of family and friends.
The PNA Modernization Act would raise the federal PNA level to $60 for an individual and $120 for a couple, and it would be indexed for inflation to preserve purchasing power in the future. This bill would provide a much needed increase and would move towards supporting these residents to age with autonomy and dignity.
For more information, see:
- Bill text for H.R. 3853
- Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton’s press release on July 18, 2019
- California Health Advocate’s letter of support for HR 3853
(Image from Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton’s press release, 7/18/19.)