Providers, it seems, are always asking lawmakers for more Medicaid dollars to improve nursing home care. Here’s another argument for increasing funds: the Personal Needs Allowance.

Eight states are still paying the same PNA amounts they paid in 1988 — $30 per month. Numerous Congressional attempts to raise the minimum have all have failed. Another 12 states have raised the PNA to $40 a month or less.

Many low-income residents rely on the PNA from Medicaid to cover expenses like stamps, stationery and birthday cards — items that are not provided in the facility. The PNA helps residents maintain a level of independence and decision-making, experts note.