Home Care Workers, Healthcare Personnel and People Inc. Get State Budget Boost | Business premises

The minimum wage for home health aides — among the lowest-paid caregivers in the state — is set to increase by $3 an hour over the next two years.

Frontline healthcare workers earning less than $125,000 a year would see a bonus of up to $3,000.

And human service providers, such as Buffalo-based People Inc., are poised to get their first cost-of-living adjustment in more than a decade, which will help boost salaries for employees who support people. with an intellectual disability.

Additionally, a pot of funds to fuel health care capital projects will be topped up by $1.6 billion.

These are among highlights of key health care provisions included in final bills introduced Friday as part of New York State’s 2022-23 budget, which is expected to reach about $220 billion.

Many industry players and trade groups kept their comments to themselves on Friday as they sifted through hundreds of pages of documents. The state Assembly and Senate passed the health care bill that included funding for social service providers, health care projects and a 1% increase in Medicaid rates, but they did not. had yet to vote as of 6 p.m. Friday on a separate bill that included home care wages and healthcare worker bonuses.

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“This budget makes significant investments to protect the well-being of New Yorkers, including a significant wage increase for frontline home care workers and increased funding for safety-net hospitals,” said George Gresham, president of a major union, 1199SEIU. United Healthcare Workers East. “These priorities are necessary to strengthen a health care system and care workforce that has been stretched to the limit in recent years.”

A pay rise for home health workers has been one of the most watched health care budget issues.

The lawyers had demanded that home helpers be paid 150% of the regional minimum wage. In Western New York, that would have meant a jump to $19.80 an hour.

The increase will come lower, it seems. The wording of the bill calls for the minimum wage for a home health aide to increase by $2 an hour on Oct. 1, followed by an additional $1 increase a year later on Oct. 1, 2023.

The initiatives, Governor Kathy Hochul said, are aimed at bolstering the state’s exhausted healthcare workforce, which continues to lose employees to retirement, resignations or higher-paying travel positions.

This indicates that a local minimum wage homemaker would see an increase to $15.20 an hour later this year and then $16.20 a year later.

At a press conference on Thursday, Governor Kathy Hochul said the combined wage increase would cost nearly $7.4 billion.

Hochul also said the state would spend $1.2 billion on healthcare worker bonuses, intended to attract and retain employees.

The detailed formula in the language of the bill is complicated, but the result is that a wide range of employees who provide “health or practical care services to individuals” and earn less than $125,000 a year are prepared to receive bonuses of up to $3,000 each.

Employees who averaged between 20 and 30 hours a week “during a vesting period” would receive a $500 bonus. This bonus would be $1,000 for those who work 30 to 35 hours per week and $1,500 for those who work more than 35 hours per week.

Employees can earn bonuses for “no more than two vesting periods per employer,” not to exceed a total of $3,000 each. This means eligible employees who receive bonuses for two vesting periods will see between $1,000 and $3,000.

A boost for human service providers

The budget provides a 5.4% cost-of-living adjustment for human service providers this fiscal year, amounting to about $500 million, according to the budget bill. health.

This will give a boost to providers such as People Inc., the Buffalo-based health and human services agency that employs more than 4,000 people from Buffalo to Rochester.

The cost-of-living adjustment has been a long time coming, said People Inc. President and CEO Rhonda Frederick.

“We haven’t had a cost of living adjustment for almost 11 years,” she said. “Obviously things have changed quite significantly in 11 years, both on the staffing side and the recruitment and retention of staff, as well as the expenses of organizations.”

The Assembly, in its proposal last month, had proposed an even larger increase of 11%, but the health budget bill ultimately mirrored Hochul’s proposal unveiled in January of 5.4%.

Most importantly, this boost will allow vendors such as People Inc. to offer more competitive salaries to staff, in an effort to address workforce recruitment and retention issues.

Frederick said about 90% of the agency’s revenue comes from public money funneled through Albany, which has made it difficult to track the costs of doing business. Yet People Inc. was able to announce in May that it was increasing its starting wage to $15 an hour for employees providing direct support to people with disabilities.

State adjustment should allow them to further increase this, which could reduce turnover in professional direct support roles where consistency and relationship building are a crucial part of the job.

“It would help people stay here so much,” said Frederick, who began his career at People Inc. in 1980 in an entry-level direct support position. “People come here, they love their job, they love what they do. But they have to be able to live, to be able to pay their rent and put food on the table.

“We have to recognize their value.”

The health budget bill also includes a general 1% increase in Medicaid rates, consistent with Hochul’s proposal announced in January.

Trade groups representing hospitals and nursing homes, such as LeadingAge New York and the Healthcare Association of New York State, had called for a bigger increase, arguing that nursing homes, in particular, needed a large reimbursement to increase wages and compete for a limited supply of health care. care workers.

NY nursing home staffing mandate goes into effect.  A trade group says it is

The mandate, passed last year by the state legislature and signed by the then government. Andrew Cuomo, in a bid to address nursing home understaffing, was originally due to come into effect on January 1, but was delayed due to staffing issues that escalated during the Omicron surge .

They pushed that argument even harder after a long-awaited law requiring minimum staffing ratios in New York nursing homes went into effect on April 1.

Healthcare Investment Funds

The Legislature also agreed with Hochul to authorize a fourth round of grants under the statewide Health Care Facility Transformation Program, totaling $1.6 billion.

Most of that is $750 million in grants for projects that focus on “innovative, patient-centered models of care,” improving access to care, improving quality of care and ensuring sustainability. finance for health care providers. At least $75 million of that — $25 million each — must go to community health care providers, mental health clinics and residential or adult care facilities.

Billions for healthcare construction in Hochul budget

The governor’s budget proposes to make $1.6 billion available to fund capital improvements to health care facilities and nursing homes, as well as to build ambulatory care infrastructure for struggling hospitals.

Another big chunk: up to $200 million for supplier grants “for the purpose of modernizing a regionally significant emergency service.” The bill defines this as: a level 1 trauma center with the highest volume in its region that has the ability to segregate patients with communicable diseases, trauma, or behavioral health issues from patients in medical services. and also provides training in emergency and trauma care to residents of several regional hospitals. Finally, a health care provider eligible for this pot of funds must serve a high proportion of Medicaid patients.

Erie County Medical Center will be eligible based on that definition, hospital spokesman Peter Cutler confirmed.

Jon Harris can be reached at 716-849-3482 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @ByJonHarris.

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