CHP: NYS Releases Info on Mental Hygiene Minimum Wage Hikes

NYAPRS Note: The following piece references recently released attached info from the state regarding the state's fiscal plans to implement minimum wage hikes to $15 per hour in most parts of the state by 2021 for OMH, OPWDD, OASAS funded community nonprofits.Note that NYC nonprofit worker minimum wages will go from $9 to $15/hour by December 2018 and for LI and WNY workers by December 2020; workers in the rest of the state will get to $12.50 by December 2020, with a "to be determined' total in 2021. 1,700 Full Time Equivalency employees will be affected in 2016, 3,400 in 2018 and 5,000 by 2019. Finally, it will cost OMH an additional $5 million to pay for these hikes in 2018 and $14.4 million in 2019. The Human Services Coalition's Allison Sesso is quoted below looking for funding to increase minimum wage levels to staff who currently are paid above these levels. Allison will head up a panel at this week's NYAPRS Executive Seminar entitled "Can Nonprofits Succeed and Survive". Tomorrow is the last day you can register; see more at

Some $230 Million to Cover Minimum Wage Hikes for Behavioral Health Providers Crain's Health Pulse April 15, 2016

Behavioral health and developmental disability providers have not been forgotten in the state's efforts to cover the direct costs of raising the minimum wage. State and federal supplements for those providers will total more than $232 million in the first three fiscal years of the wage increases. That funding is in addition to money that was appropriated<> for home care agencies, nursing homes and hospitals.

In a rare move, the state unveiled the calculations behind its funding decisions in a handout<> distributed to providers and advocacy groups last week.

"I've been in this field for 25 years I have to say, I'm really impressed that they showed their justification [for the funding]," said Christy Parque, chief executive of the Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies. "I think I've only seen that a handful of times."

The Division of the Budget broke down the costs of raising the minimum wage over the next three years by state agency. It showed that the state would cover more than half of those costs, and a spokesman for the Division of the Budget confirmed that the remaining amount would be covered through federal Medicaid matches.

The handout also offered some of the reasoning behind the figures. Calculations were based on how many full-time employees would need to have their wages raised to meet the new minimums being rolled out across the state. For example, in fiscal 2017, about 14,500 people who work for agencies providing services on behalf of the Office of People with Disabilities will be directly impacted by the wage mandate; it will cost $7.5 million to raise them up to the new wage floor. That translates to a 0.47% Medicaid rate adjustment for their employers, according to the state's calculations.

Despite efforts to be transparent, questions and concerns remain, however. Representatives of mental health, disability and social services providers say they still want to negotiate with the state to secure funding to cover the cost of raising the wages of employees farther up the pay scale.

"We want to make sure we maintain career ladders within the nonprofit sector," said Allison Sesso, executive director of the Human Services Council of New York.

The higher minimum wage is a good way to recruit employees, but retaining them will be difficult without the ability to pay more over time, said Parque.

Both Sesso and Parque emphasized that they support the wage increases.

"We just have to ensure that nonprofits that get the bulk of their funding from the government are able to make ends meet," said Sesso, whose organization campaigned for "15 and funding" in the months leading up to the wage hike.

Sesso added that the human services providers she represents also want to know the breakdown for other relevant state agencies, including the Office of Children and Family Services, the Office for the Aging and the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.

Parque said the transparency the state has shown so far has been welcome. "I hope it's not a one-time thing."