New York State Budget Finalized with $550 Million Increase Restored for Medicaid Funding

Earlier this year, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his plan for the 2020 state budget, including a 3.6% planned budgeted increase to overall health care spending. When proposed tax revenue estimates came in much lower than anticipated, the administration decided to cut approximately $550 million of this increase. But after strong advocacy efforts from many health care groups across the state, the Governor and his administration changed their position, keeping the $550 million Medicaid increase in the budget.

BAYADA’s Government Affairs Office (GAO) participated in several conference calls with the New York State Home Care Association (HCA) to learn more about Medicaid spending, which accounts for 42% of the budget, and what we and our office staff, clients, and families can do to advocate for higher wages for home care nurses through increased reimbursement rates. 

Currently, New York’s Medicaid reimbursement rates are well-below surrounding states, so many caregivers are discouraged from entering—or staying in—the home care industry due to abysmal wages. It also impacts BAYADA because the rates are currently so low that we are currently not be able to provide sustainable Medicaid-based home care in the state and pay caregivers an appropriate wage.

As part of a larger national trend, New York did vote to increase the statewide minimum wage to $15 per hour incrementally through 2021. New York understands that home care providers that do provide Medicaid-based services would not be able to comply with this minimum wage mandate and stay sustainable under current rates. The final budget did include an additional $1.1 billion to support the cost of raising minimum wage for health care workers. BAYADA is currently advocating for similar increases in other GAO states that have increased the mandatory minimum wage, but have not increased reimbursement rates in tandem. Medicaid rates must keep pace with the rising cost of living and increased wage mandates to ensure that providers can stay in business, and to ensure that vulnerable New Yorkers can have access to quality home care.

Calling All Ambassadors for Rhode Island and New York!

Our 2017 Ambassador of the Year winners pose with Chief Government Affairs Officer Dave Totaro and US Senator Debbie Stabenow

The Hearts for Home Care (H4HC) Ambassador role is a voluntary assignment for BAYADA office employees who are interested in going above and beyond for their staff and clients through advocacy. The H4HC Ambassador serves as the point of contact between the BAYADA Government Affairs Office (GAO) and the Ambassador’s home office. Ambassadors’ primary responsibility is to develop and foster relationships with their local legislators through meetings and home visits. These meetings ensure that our state decisionmakers are educated on home care and understand the immense impact our industry has on their constituents. Most legislators are not familiar with home care, so the more we tell them about our staff and clients, the more likely they are to support reimbursement rate increases and other policies favorable to home care. Additionally, top Ambassadors are recognized at our yearly Ambassador Awards trip, and all Ambassadors get exclusive invitations to fundraisers and other events throughout the year.

GAO’s goal is to have at least one Ambassador per office in both Rhode Island and New York. It is vital that someone can communicate updates and initiatives during staff meetings from our H4HC team to your colleagues and educate local legislators about home care and the issues we and our clients face daily. If you are interested in becoming an Ambassador, email Mike Sokoloski to learn more about the program and our bi-monthly onboarding Zoom for new Ambassadors.

Can’t commit? Even if you are not interested in becoming an Ambassador at this time, all staff, clients, and supporters of home care are encouraged to join Hearts for Home Care and like our Hearts for Home Care Facebook Page to stay up-to-date on client stories, legislative accomplishments, and home care news.