MIL-OSI USA: Wexton Introduces Legislation to Strengthen Financial Freedom for Seniors and Disabled Americans

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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA)

Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) introduced the Personal Needs Allowance (PNA) Modernization Act to increase benefits for Medicaid beneficiaries in nursing home facilities. The bill would double the federal floor of the Personal Needs Allowance from $30 per individual and $60 per couple to $60 per individual and $120 per couple, and index the amount to inflation going forward. Congress has not raised the PNA federal floor since 1988.

“Across the country, seniors on Medicaid living in nursing homes are being forced to go without basic necessities and comforts because of a long-overdue failure to raise the Personal Needs Allowance,” said Congresswoman Wexton. “I’ve heard firsthand from Virginia seniors who feel stuck and ashamed at having to ask their families for money just to buy everyday items like clothes, preferred toiletries, and birthday cards for their grandkids. I’m taking action with this legislation to double the current federal floor of the PNA and give these seniors the dignity and financial freedom they deserve.” 

“The federal personal needs allowance of $30 per month unfairly locks nursing home residents into a subsistence-level lifestyle. An increase and a link to future cost of living increases is long overdue, and Justice in Aging thanks Congresswoman Wexton for introducing this important legislation to improve residents’ quality of life,” said Eric Carlson, Director of Long-Term Services and Supports Advocacy at Justice in Aging.

“The Medicare Rights Center is pleased to endorse the Personal Needs Allowance Modernization Act. This commonsense bill would raise the federal floor of the PNA for the first time since 1988 and index it to inflation – ensuring it better reflects current and future economic realities and more effectively helps low-income older adults and people with disabilities live with dignity, choice, and financial security,” said Fred Riccardi, President of the Medicare Rights Center.

The Personal Needs Allowance (PNA) is the monthly sum of money that nursing home residents on Medicaid may retain to pay for personal expenses, including everything from clothes to preferred personal care products, to cards or a cell phone bill to keep in touch with their loved ones. Currently, the federal floor for the PNA is just $30 for an individual and $60 for a couple. Wexton has heard firsthand from nursing home residents about the extreme budget constraints residents face because of this and the difficult choices they are forced to make that sacrifice their comfort and dignity.

The Personal Needs Modernization Act doubles the federal floor of the PNA, to $60 for an individual and $120 for a couple, and indexes it to inflation. After adjusting for inflation, the current rate of $30 for an individual would be just a mere $11.30 in 1988 dollars, a drop of greater than than 60% overall in purchasing power.

The full text of the PNA Modernization Act can be found here.