Right now, the answer is “no.” If you qualify for MassHealth and need a personal care attendant (PCA), you can use MassHealth money to pay anyone to care for you except your spouse. Under current law, you can pay your fiance to provide care and MassHealth won’t mind, but your significant other would be off the payroll the moment you got married.
A new bill pending in the Massachusetts legislature would allow MassHealth to pay spouses of disabled persons for personal care attendant services. The present law was based on the presumption that a married couple should care for each other; however, that presumption ignores hard economic reality. Many spouses are forced to drop out of the workforce or cut back to part-time hours to provide for care. The current MassHealth PCA rate of $13 per hour is not going to make anyone rich, but it could be the difference for a married couple struggling to keep a roof over their heads while living off of the disabled spouse’s Social Security check and (maybe) part-time employment for the healthy spouse — or putting the disabled spouse in a nursing home.
I encourage my readers to please contact their legislators and Governor Patrick’s office and tell them that this bill deserves a vote and passage into law.