The ABC’s of Home Care Licensing In Minnesota

If you’re shopping for home health care, the types of licenses sounds like a crazy alphabet soup—A, B, C, F. What does it all mean? What class of service is right for you? And what about Medicare certification? Here’s a guide to Minnesota home care licenses.

Class A License – Issued to professional home care agencies. A Class A agency provides care in your home—whether it’s a house/apartment or a residential facility. Agencies with a Class A license may offer a full spectrum of services from nursing and physical/speech/occupational/respiratory therapy to medical social services and supplies. Many Class A agencies provide a menu of the most requested and essential services: nurses, home health aides, homemakers, companions, and medical social services or care management services. The agency employs and manages the staff and checks their qualifications.

Class B License – Issued to paraprofessional agencies. A Class B agency provides home health aides and homemaking and/or companion services in your home—whether it’s a house/apartment or a residential facility. Class B agencies do not offer nursing or any of the various therapies mentioned above. For many families, that’s all they need. The agency employs and manages the staff and checks their qualifications.

Class C License – Issued to an individual. With a Class C license, a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) can provide home health aide services under the supervision of an R.N. It’s up to the CNA/home health aide to establish a relationship with a supervising R.N. A home health aide can also provide personal care assistance or homemaking services. Personal care assistance includes help with bathing and dressing as well as some housekeeping tasks. However, personal care assistants do not help with anything medical like taking blood pressures or supervising medications. Homemakers do cooking, cleaning, and shopping, but they do not do personal care. Personal care assistants and homemakers need to be registered with the state, but they are not licensed.

If you choose a person with a Class C license, you are hiring and supervising him or her directly. You are responsible for checking credentials and background. You will arrange for coverage if the person you hire is sick or his or her car won’t start.

Class F License – Issued to assisted living facilities. Agencies with a Class F license provide care in a residential facility/assisted living setting. Sometimes these facilities are referred to as Housing with Services (HWS). People with a Class F license do not come to individual homes. With a Class F license, the organization may provide the full range of services mentioned under Class A. Or they may offer a more limited selection of services.

Medicare Certification – If an agency accepts Medicare payments, it must meet the federal government’s requirements in order to be certified. However, if an agency does not accept Medicare payment, it doesn’t have to be Medicare-certified. If an agency is Medicare-certified it must also have a Class A home care license, but a Class A agency is not required to be Medicare-certified. In other words, lack of Medicare-certification is no reflection on the quality of the care—it strictly relates to the forms of payment accepted.

To learn about home care licensing in more detail, consult the Minnesota Department of Health or visit the Minnesota Board on Aging.