NY launches program offering bonuses for health care workers

Posted 3 August 2022 at 3:05 pm

Press Release, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Office

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the launch of the Health Care and Mental Hygiene Worker Bonus program.

Enacted in the Fiscal Year 2023 New York State Budget, the program includes $1.3 billion allocated for the payment of recruitment and retention bonuses to certain health care and mental hygiene workers, a key initiative in the governor’s aim to increase the state’s health care workforce by 20 percent over the next five years.

Bonuses will be awarded to eligible workers who make less than $125,000 annually and remain in their positions for at least six months. Disbursements will be commensurate with the number of hours worked and duration of service within designated vesting periods for up to a total of $3,000 per employee.

“Throughout the pandemic, including the early days when many were hunkered down at home, our health care workers and first responders have shown up day after day to keep New Yorkers healthy and save lives,” Governor Hochul said. “Health care workers are the foundation of our medical system, and we need to acknowledge the sacrifices they have made to bring us through these challenging times. Our bonus program is about more than just thanks, this is an investment in health care and with it we will retain, rebuild, and grow our health care workforce and ensure we deliver the highest quality care for New Yorkers.”

The new HWB provision is authorized under part ZZ of New York’s 2022-2023 Enacted Education, Labor, Family Assistance Health and Mental Hygiene Bill, to facilitate an incentive program for the purpose of recruiting, retaining, and rewarding health care and mental hygiene workers meeting specified eligibility requirements.

Employers eligible for HWB program funding include providers participating in Medicaid with at least one employee, and other providers, facilities, pharmacies and school-based health centers licensed under the state Public Health Law, Mental Hygiene Law, and Education Law, as well as certain programs funded by the Office of Mental Health, Office for the Aging, Office of Addiction Services and Supports, the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, and the Office of Children and Family Services.

Employees eligible for HWB payments provide hands-on health care services and can include certain front line health care and mental hygiene practitioners, technicians, assistants, support staff and aides. They must be receiving an annualized base salary (excluding any bonuses or overtime pay) of $125,000 or less, and can be full-time, part-time, or temporary. State employees who meet the eligibility requirements for the program will be eligible to receive the bonus payments, just as eligible employees who work outside of state government will be.  Such employees will be paid through existing State payroll systems.

Bonuses for employees will be determined by specific “vesting periods,” or hours worked during a consecutive six-month period between October 1, 2021, through March 31, 2024.

Qualified employees who work:

  • At least 20 hours but no more than 30 hours per week are eligible for a bonus of $500.
  • At least 30 hours but no more than 35 hours per week are eligible for a bonus of $1,000.
  • At least 35 hours per week are eligible for a bonus of $1,500.

A qualified employee can receive up to a maximum of $3,000 in total bonus payments over two vesting periods. Employees may not receive bonuses if they have ever been suspended or excluded from the Medicaid program, and must be enrolled in the HWB program by their employer, who are mandated to award HWB funds no later than 30 days after a worker’s eligibility for a bonus has vested.

Eligible employers can submit employees who qualify for HWB payments by creating an account on the online HWB portal, which will be open on August 3, 2022, at www.nysworkerbonus.com. The health care worker bonus portal will open for education sector employers in October.

Additionally, employers must be either currently enrolled and maintain an active MMIS ID with eMedNY or employers that do not have an MMIS ID, meaning they are not enrolled in the NYS Medicaid system, will need to verify that they have a Statewide Financial System (SFS) ID. Eligible employers without eMedNY can enroll at www.emedny.org.