By Bob Katzen

More than a year ago on May 13, 2019, the Committee on Elder Affairs gave a favorable report to and recommended the Legislature approve a proposal raising the Personal Needs Allowance (PNA) for nursing home residents from the current $72.80 monthly to $100 monthly. It also includes a provision that gives the residents an annual cost of living increase. The PNA pays for expenses not covered by Medicaid for nursing home residents. The Legislature has not yet acted on the bill.

Supporters say that the money, half of which is reimbursed with federal dollars, helps residents pay for clothing, shoes, phone calls, medicine, transportation, haircuts and other personal needs which help them maintain their dignity and well-being. They noted the $72.80 monthly allowance has not been raised in 20 years.

“I filed this bill to increase the amount to $100 and index it to inflation,” said the bill’s sponsor Sen. Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville). “People in rest homes have to stretch their PNA even more. One man testified about using it not only for medication copays but [for] Depends.”

“As with so many other bills, consideration of this one has been delayed during the emergency,” said Jehlen. “I will continue to advocate for it and will certainly refile if we’re not successful in the next three months.”

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