Consumer FAQ

Below are some of the common questions we receive from consumers. Click on each question to view the answers. If you still have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us!

What is PCA Choice?

Join UsPCA Choice is a program offered by the Minnesota Department of Human Services. The PCA Choice program offers people living with disabilities greater control and choice in managing home care staff. Under this option, the Consumer essentially is a "joint employer" of their PCAs (aka. Direct Support Workers). The Consumer (or their Responsible Party) is responsible for the finding, hiring, training, scheduling and firing of their staff. The Consumer (or their Responsible Party) is also responsible for finding their own back up staff and developing a care plan with the help of our Qualified Professional (QP). To partner with us as your PCA Choice provider, you would declare this option on your PCA assessment or request to change programs. We will assist you throughout the process.

How do I qualify for PCA services? Who pays for it?

We are a PCA Choice provider that accepts Minnesota Care - Medical Assistance (MA) coverage only. If you currently do not receive MA, you will need to apply for MA by contacting your County Human Services Office or call the MN Care State Office at 651-297-3862 or 800-657-3672. You also can apply for MN Care online.

If you are a recipient of Minnesota Care - Medical Assistance (MA) , you will need to medically qualify for PCA services and ask for a PCA Assessment from your county. Contact your County Human Services Office and ask for an assessment. At the assessment you will have the option to choose PCA Choice services and you can name us as your desired provider at that time.

We do ask that you contact us before selecting us as your PCA Choice provider. For new Consumer Partnerships, we discuss your eligibility, responsibilities as a PCA Choice Consumer, existing care staff (if any) and overall program criteria so we can be sure that our partnership will be a good fit. We will have our Qualified Professional RN come out to do our in-take visit and discuss the timeline to partner with us!

I already receive PCA Choice services, how do I switch to Ability Care Partners?

To partner with us, we simply need to communicate with you about your service needs and set-up a in-take visit. We make the process as simple as possible, we even have change of provider forms that you can securely review/sign and submit online. We will guide you throughout the process.

What insurance do you accept?

We accept MinnesotaCare - Medical Assistance (MA). Also known as Medicaid. We currently are not a member provider of any HMO's (Ucare, Medica, etc.).

Do you accept private pay?

No. As a PCA Choice provider, we are not licensed to accept private pay.

Can my family be paid to provide me with PCA services?

Yes! With PCA Choice, you can choose your caregivers! Consumers often prefer to hire family, friends or neighbors they trust to provide PCA care. To work as a PCA in Minnesota, you must meet some general PCA criteria for family members (listed below).  To hire someone as your PCA, we will have the person complete employee hiring documents and we will process the required NETStudy 2.0 PCA Background Study.

A personal care assistant may not be the:

  • Paid legal guardian of an adult
  • Legal guardian of a minor
  • Parent or stepparent of a minor child recipient
  • Recipient of PCA services
  • Responsible party of a recipient
  • Spouse of a recipient

A PCA is limited to providing and being paid for up to 275 hours per month of PCA regardless of the number of recipients being served or the number of PCA provider agencies enrolled with.

How much do you pay PCAs?

This is the most common question we receive. We start at $12.00-12.20 per hour

We offer Paid Time Off (PTO) where you earn 1 hour PTO for every 43 hours worked (as required by the 2017-2019 MN DHS & SEIU Collective Bargaining Agreement).

We also comply with Minneapolis & St. Paul city ordinances regarding Safe & Sick Time when working with our Consumers who live within those cities.

Unlike many other providers, we do offer limited Overtime Authorizations! We understand and respect the work of dedicated PCAs that want to consistently work over 40 hours per week.

We do prefer to discuss wages and limited overtime agreements with our Consumers privately.

Do you offer employee benefits and health insurance?

We offer Paid Time Off (PTO) where you earn 1 hour PTO for every 43 hours worked (as required by the 2017-2019 MN DHS & SEIU Collective Bargaining Agreement).

We also comply with Minneapolis & St. Paul city ordinances regarding Safe & Sick Time when working with our Consumers who live within those cities.

Unlike many other providers, we do offer limited Overtime Authorizations! We understand and respect the work of dedicated PCAs that want to consistently work over 40 hours per week.

At this time we do not offer health insurance to any employees due to the financial limitations we face as a result of the Medicaid reimbursement rates we receive for services. We do comply with Affordable Care Act (ACA) reporting requirements and we will be responsible for any Employer Shared Responsibility penalties we may be subjected to.

I need help finding caregivers, will you fill my open positions? Do you offer back-up PCA staff?

Unfortunately we cannot assign or find PCAs for you due to the design of the PCA Choice program. We act more as a financial intermediary or fiscal manager. We are not a Medicare certified home care or traditional PCA provider that hires and manages staffing for you. Consumers on the PCA Choice program are responsible for maintaining a back-up staffing / support plan.

We do offer guidance and resources to help you find and hire your own PCA staff. We do offer limited assistance with advertising open positions. Feel free to contact us to find out how we can help.

How can I find people to work as my PCA?

This is another very common question! The best free method to find / hire people to be you PCA is through word-of-mouth referrals, social media and bulletin boards at local coffee shops, businesses, community colleges and churches near you. We frequently hear how difficult it is to find reliable trustworthy PCA applicants.

We suggest that you clearly but briefly outline your open position with general location and overview of the hours you need help! Posting or sharing flyers is something you can do at little cost to you. There also are local and regional social media groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. that may be good options.

Below are links to common sites to post PCA jobs:

Where can I advertise my open PCA jobs?

Below are links to common sites to post PCA jobs:

How long does the required NETStudy 2.0 background study take to clear?

It usually takes 3-5 business days after the PCA has completed the required NETStudy fingerprints and photo at an authorized fingerprinting location. We do not process fingerprints ourselves. Per state law, we do not allow any PCA to work until we have received clearance notice. Once a NETStudy has cleared, we send a "Welcome" email with the PCA's official start date once clearance is received.

The NETStudy processing timeline can vary based on a number of factors such as living out of state (in the past five years) or if any criminal court case records need to be manually reviewed to determine eligibility. We have no control over the timeline to be cleared. We do check the NETStudy system daily Mon-Fri for results updates. 

In the event that NETStudy has issued a letter saying "more time is needed", the PCA will be responsible to communicate with them to determine what is needed to clear the study result. Unfortunately, they do not give us a reason.

For more information please visit the Background Study website or contact MN DHS NETStudy at (651) 431-6620 with any questions.

 

Where do my PCAs go for NETStudy fingerprints? What is the process?

Once we have initiated a background study, we will email the PCA their Fingerprint Authorization Form with instructions needed to complete the fingerprint and photo service. The required PCA fingerprints and photograph must be completed at a DHS authorized location. You may select from numerous statewide locations to have your fingerprints and photo taken. Please contact the location(s) near you to confirm days, hours and availability before you arrive.

When you go to the fingerprint and photo service location you MUST bring both your Fingerprint Authorization Form AND your driver's license, government-issued ID, or other acceptable form of identification. It is very important to be sure that your name and date of birth on the Fingerprint Authorization Form is exactly the same as the information on your identification. If the information on the Fingerprint Authorization Form does not match your identification document, you will be turned away at the location. Please contact us to have your information corrected it in the NETStudy system. 

You have up to 14 days to be fingerprinted and photographed. If there is an emergency that will prevent you from completing the fingerprints within the 14 day period, please let us know the reason to see if you may qualify for an extension. Expired Fingerprint Authorizations cannot be extended, a new NETStudy application must be submitted.

The fingerprint and photo process itself should take about ten minutes and is completed by a trained technician. The fingerprint images are transmitted through a secure system to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) and in some cases when required by law, the fingerprints are also transmitted securely to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a criminal record search. 

For general questions regarding background study requirements (such as what does the law state, who needs a study, what causes a person to be disqualified, need a copy of a result, why is a study taking such a long time, etc.) e-mail the Background Study Administrator at DHS.BackgroundStudyAdmin@state.mn.us or call the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Licensing Division at (651) 431-6620.

Who do we contact regarding a background study question?

As your MN PCA Choice Partner, we are committed to assisting with checking the background study status of our pending PCA employees. We regularly check the system for status updates and email notices when they are complete.

For general questions regarding background study requirements (such as what does the law state, who needs a study, what causes a person to be disqualified, need a copy of a result, or why is a study taking such a long time, etc.) e-mail the Background Study Administrator at DHS.BackgroundStudyAdmin@state.mn.us or call the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Licensing Division at (651) 431-6620.