Senate and Assembly Release Budget Priorities

 Over the weekend, the NYS Senate and Assembly both released their house’s budget proposals detailing their priorities as the 2021-2022 state budget process continues towards its April 1 deadline. 

As the legislature has worked through the budget process, HCP has urged the adoption of our priorities to address the many concerns of the home care industry, and we continue to do so.  There were many issues prior to the pandemic, and many more as a result of the pandemic.  

In its most recent communication with the legislature, HCP  urged the use of enhanced federal funding for home and community-based services to provide financial resources to home care providers in order to ensure that they can sustain the additional expenses related to COVID response, and to invest in workforce recruitment and retention. In addition, HCP continues to strongly press for the full statutory repeal of the Licensed Home Care Services Agency Request for Offers (LHCSA RFO).

HCP is pleased that the Legislature has agreed with some its advocacy items, like repealing the Medicaid Global Cap and exempting from managed care the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Nursing Home Transition and Diversion (NHTD) Waiver programs. HCP is gravely disappointed over the failure to repeal the LHCSA RFO, the failure to provide serious investment in the home care industry, and the failure to address the increased expenses providers have incurred due to COVID, among other issues that have not been addressed in the budget process. HCP continues to call on the Legislature to act on these issues and make a serious investment in the home care industry. 

Overview of Home Care Issues in the Legislative Budget Proposals

Below are issues that have been addressed in the budget and the status of the issues in both houses of the legislature. 

The Governor proposed an across the board 1% Medicaid cut to keep Medicaid spending within the Global Cap.

Both the Senate and Assembly reject this cut. 

The Governor proposed a reduction in Workforce Recruitment and Retention funding 

Both the Senate and Assembly have rejected this reduction. The Assembly proposes to add $20 million to the budget for this purpose.  

The Governor proposed to discontinue Medicaid Quality Pool Payments.

Both the Senate and Assembly reject this cut. 

The Governor proposed funding the next round of Minimum Wage Increases in 2021. 

Both the Senate and Assembly Support this action.

Both the Senate and Assembly propose to exempt from transitioning to managed care Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Nursing Home Transition and Diversion (NHTD) Waiver programs. 

The Governor has not proposed such a policy. 

The Governor proposed to continue to fund Medicaid programs under the Medicaid Global Spending Cap.

The Assembly would repeal the Cap. The Senate directs the State to find an alternate methodology to contain spending. 

The Senate proposed requiring the Department of Health to offer home care competency exams to potential home care aides residing outside the state.

Neither the Governor nor Assembly have proposed such a policy.

The Senate has proposed reopening the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP) RFO process to: 1) Require the Commissioner of Health to reoffer contracts to ensure that there are at least two Fiscal Intermediaries headquartered in each county with a population of 200,000 or more. 2) Add 5 awards, subject to certain conditions, for agencies servicing individuals with developmental disabilities. 3) Add 5 awards, subject to certain conditions, for agencies serving racial and ethnic minorities. 

Neither the Governor nor the Assembly have proposed such a policy.

The Senate has proposed the Fair Pay for Home Care Act to increase home care aide wages on 4/1/21 to no less than 106% of the minimum wage and on 10/1/21 to 112% of the minimum wage. The proposal would also increase worker wage parity rates to $4.27 per hour in New York City and $3.38 per hour in Long Island and Westchester. 

Neither the Governor nor the Assembly have proposed such a policy.

HCP Continues to Urge the State to Act Now to Invest in Home Care

With the enactment last week of the Federal American Rescue Plan to provide the sixth round of COVID relief and the addition of the $600 million targeted to New York State’s home and community based services (HCBS), HCP continues its advocacy to ensure long overdue funding for the home care industry. 

In its letter to the entire Legislature and the Governor, HCP urged the legislature to recognize that now is the time! The day has come for New York to embrace and invest in its home care industry. 

HCP explained that the experience of the last year clearly shows that it is essential for New York State to INVEST in and protect the economic viability of the home care industry in order to ensure individuals with disabilities, those with chronic illnesses and elderly populations have access to services that allow them to remain in the comfort and safety of their own home – the care setting of choice. Patients do better at home.

Critically, in addition to making providers whole for their increased expenses due to COVID, the state must chart a course to INVEST in home care for the future of New York’s long term care system. New York must recognize the need to and actually reimburse providers at a sufficient and transparent rate, to allow providers to offer competitive wages, allow providers to pay candidates for home health aide and personal care aide training in order to recruit aides to serve the aging population, and provide funding to retain and sustain the workforce. 

In so investing, the state MUST ensure direct and transparent reimbursement to providers rather than allow such an investment to be misdirected to those other than home care providers. 

HCP will continue its advocacy for fair reimbursement using these new federal dollars intended to provide relief to this vital sector. HCP will continue its advocacy to repeal the Licensed Home Care Services Agency (LHCSA) Request for Offers (RFO).

REMINDER: Paid Time Off for COVID-19 Vaccination – EFFECTIVE Friday, March 12, 2021

On Friday March 12, Governor Cuomo signed into law a bill requiring employers to provide paid time off for employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The new law amends the Labor Law by adding a new section 196-c to provide that every employee shall be provided a paid leave for a sufficient period of time, not to exceed four hours per vaccine injection, unless such employee shall receive a greater number of hours pursuant to a collectively bargained agreement or as otherwise authorized by the employer, to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

The entire period of the leave shall be provided at the employee's regular rate of pay and shall not be charged against any other leave such employee is otherwise entitled to, including sick leave.

The new law also provides that employees shall not be discriminated nor retaliated against for exercising rights given by this bill.

The bill was effective immediately upon the Governor signing the measure. It will be deemed repealed on December 31, 2022.