- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 12, 2015

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - In a story May 11 about a proposed increase in the minimum wage for Missouri home care workers, The Associated Press misstated the state’s current minimum wage. It is $7.65 an hour, not $7.50 an hour.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Missouri home care workers push for higher wages

Missouri home care workers urge lawmakers to allow new wage increase to take effect

By SUMMER BALLENTINE

Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri home care workers on Monday pressed lawmakers to allow a proposed increase in their minimum wage to take effect, despite opposition from home health care companies arguing it could cause them financial hardship.

Under scrutiny is an agreement ratified by the state Quality Home Care Council that allows those they care for to pay workers between $8.50 and $10.15 an hour, up from the current $7.65 an hour minimum.

A panel of lawmakers on Tuesday is set to review work by the Health and Senior Services Department to put that wage increase into rule. The rule will take effect unless members of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules decide to stall it. The committee’s chairman, Republican Rep. Jay Barnes of Jefferson City, said lawmakers at that point would have until 30 legislative days into next session to pass a bill resolution blocking the increase completely.

Home care workers are paid through the state’s Medicaid program and often are employed by companies that contract with the state. Supporters say a higher wage range would allow those who receive home care to reward more qualified workers and could reduce high turnover they say is caused by poor pay.

“My home care attendant is my lifeline,” said 63-year-old St. Louis resident Mary Woods, whose daughter began caring for her after she lost the ability to walk following a 2009 car accident. Although Woods’ daughter cooks, cleans and shops for her, “she, like thousands of others, earns very little pay,” Woods said.

But the companies who often manage those workers say the rule would hurt them financially. Those vendors take a cut from the $15.56 an hour that the Legislature has budgeted from state Medicaid funds to pay each attendant.

Raising the minimum wage would mean they take a smaller chunk of that money.

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Follow Summer Ballentine at: https://www.twitter.com/esballentine.

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