ROCHESTER, NY — For the past few weeks, News10NBC has been reporting on the fine print of the state’s healthcare worker bonus program. Most healthcare workers who are employed by private medical and dental practices are excluded, as are home healthcare and direct care workers and now most of those who work in assisted living facilities have discovered that neither did they receive any money.
Many healthcare workers are excluded based on the requirement that the facility or agency where they work serve at least 20% of the Medicaid population for them to be eligible. This excludes about two-thirds of assisted living facilities in the state and they are not happy with it. “Why should it be about whether the government paid these workers or whether it was paid by the resident, they were doing the exact same thing,” says Lisa Newcomb, executive director of the Empire State Association of Assisted Living. .
Assisted living facilities that accept Medicaid are further limited in who they can claim the bonus for because of another line in state rules that reads: “support staff are only eligible bonus if he works in a patient care unit of a hospital or other institutional medical setting. Assisted living facilities are not considered institutional. “These employees provide the same services, it’s the same, the Nursing home residents may be more fragile,” says Newcomb.
Newcomb says his organization, which represents hundreds of facilities across the state, has repeatedly sought clarification from the New York State Department of Health. “We need to be sure that the department actually sees them as eligible, because what we fear or fear is that if we go ahead without them providing this clarification and potentially submitting it for a year or two later, the department might come back to the assisted living provider and say your workers weren’t eligible, you have to pay that back,” Newcomb says.
News10NBC contacted both NYSDOH and Governor Kathy Hochul’s office. A spokesperson for the Executive Chamber said, “Governor Hochul is proud to have worked with the Legislature to provide bounties to hundreds of thousands of healthcare heroes across New York State, including a large range of employees in front-line health and mental hygiene professions. Governor Hochul remains committed to building on continued efforts to retain, rebuild and grow our healthcare workforce and ensure we provide the highest quality care to all New Yorkers.
The spokesperson also clarified that to be eligible for the bonuses, those employed in areas listed under “all other healthcare support workers” must be employed by a facility that provides ongoing medical or nursing services, such than the type provided in acute care hospitals, inpatient psychiatric facilities, skilled nursing homes, or other health-related facilities.
Since adult care and assisted living facilities are not permitted to provide the continuing medical or nursing services offered in acute care hospitals, inpatient psychiatric facilities, skilled nursing homes or other health-related facilities, generally speaking, adult care workers and assisted living facilities are not eligible to participate.