NYS Should Subsidize $15 Minimum Wage Hike, Lawmakers and Advocates Say

NYAPRS Note: While testifying for the New York State Legislature at a budget hearing on Monday, State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker confirmed that Governor Cuomo’s 2016-17 budget proposal includes no funding mechanism to help nonprofits, hospitals, or nursing homes pay for the expected $15 an hour minimum wage increase.

Senators Cathy Young (R-WNY) and Diane Savino (D-Staten Island), among others, echoed the concerns of providers and advocates who simply do not understand how nonprofits will be able to pay their workers the increased minimum wage without a significant allocation in the budget.

In her testimony, Lara Kassel, Coordinator of Medicaid Matters New York (MMNY), said that, “absent funding to compensate for a minimum wage increase, many providers and community-based organizations will struggle to continue their mission of providing quality services to vulnerable populations.”

NYAPRS shares the very realistic concerns of those – especially our members – who fear they may not be able to recruit and/or retain a quality workforce if the state is unwilling to help fund the minimum wage hike for nonprofits. In the coming weeks we will be gathering data to gauge the impact this would have on member agencies. Please stay tuned.

 

NY Should Subsidize Nursing Homes If Minimum Wage Jumps To $15, Senators Say

By Mike McAndrew Syracuse.com January 25, 2016

 

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- New York senators said Monday that the state should help nursing homes, hospitals and home health aide companies pay higher labor costs if the minimum wage climbs to $15 an hour, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed.

 

While testifying for the state Legislature at a budget hearing in Albany, Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker confirmed that Cuomo's proposed 2016-17 state budget includes no funds to help hospitals or nursing homes pay workers higher minimum wages.

 

"I've had nursing home operators come to me and say if this $15 an hour passes there's no question we will have to close our nursing home," said Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, chair of the Senate finance committee.

 

Zucker said that the state is aware that nursing homes may struggle. "We are looking at all the nursing homes. We recognize the challenges there," he said.

 

Cuomo has proposed gradually increasing the minimum wage from $9 an hour to $15 an hour for all workers in New York. Workers in New York City would get $15 an hour by Dec. 31, 2018. Elsewhere in the state, the $15 rate would kick in in mid-2021.

 

Sen. Diane Savino, D-Staten Island, said she supports raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. But she said the state should budget extra funds for private companies it contracts to send home health aides to visit sick and disabled people.

 

At the hearing, Zucker and state Medicaid Director Jason Helgerson also testified that Cuomo's budget would help curb the growth of Medicaid costs for 6.3 million New Yorkers, telling lawmakers annual spending growth has dropped to 1.4 percent.

 

The Cuomo administration proposed spending $63.3 billion for medical care of low-income residents in the coming fiscal year starting April 1, the largest single component of its proposed $145.3 billion budget. Half of Medicaid is federally funded.

 

Some lawmakers from New York City expressed opposition to Cuomo's plan to make the city pay for its own annual growth in Medicaid costs, which would shift about $630 million in costs from the state to NYC.

 

Helgerson said New York City accounts for more than 50 percent of the state's Medicaid expenses, so it was asked to pay for the extra costs.

 

http://www.syracuse.com/state/index.ssf/2016/01/senators_suggest_ny_subsidize_nursing_homes_if_minimum_wage_jumps_to_15.html

 

 

NY Reports Progress Curbing Medicaid Costs For 6.3 Million

By Associated Press Tuesday, January 26TH 2016

 

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — State health officials on Monday reported progress curbing Medicaid costs for 6.3 million New Yorkers, telling lawmakers annual spending growth has dropped to 1.4 percent.

 

Testifying at a budget hearing, Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said overall quality of care has improved along with growing enrollment. He also said the state has made progress against AIDS, with no new mother-to-child transmissions of the virus that causes it.

 

"More work remains to be done," Zucker said.

 

The Cuomo administration proposed spending $63.3 billion for medical care of low-income residents in the coming fiscal year starting April 1, the largest single component of its proposed $145.3 billion budget. Half of Medicaid is federally funded.

 

Several New York City legislators faulted Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan to make the city pay for its own annual growth in Medicaid costs, about $195 million for the second half of the coming year.

 

"This is an outrageous clawback," said Sen. Martin Golden, a Brooklyn Republican. The proposed city payment would reach $735 million by 2020, he said.

 

Zucker and state Medicaid Director Jason Helgerson said New York City accounts for more than half the state's Medicaid expenses. They are committed to working with the city in efforts to avoid the need for it paying more, they said.

 

Other lawmakers questioned the lack of budget specifics about paying health care aides more under Cuomo's proposed $15 minimum wage.

 

Where are we going with the minimum wage?" said Sen. Kemp Hannon, who chairs the Senate Health Committee. "The whole system will be affected."

 

Zucker noted the proposed wage increases would be phased in over several years and will be part of the budget discussions.

 

The system has accommodated increased reimbursements before, Helgerson said. He cited another benefit of higher wages. "It helps to ensure we have a stable work force. ... That will lead to better patient outcome."

 

http://www.timesunion.com/news/article/NY-reports-progress-curbing-Medicaid-costs-for-6782507.php