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Home Care Aide Wage Parity Law Upheld by New York State Appeals Court

July 11, 2013

The New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division on July 3 upheld the Wage Parity Law (pdf) for home care aides that was passed in 2011 — a critical element in the state’s Medicaid Redesign plan.

The lawsuit was brought against the state by Concerned Home Care Providers, a trade group for home care agencies serving the counties impacted by the law: New York City, Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk.

The Wage Parity Law requires that organizations providing aide services paid for by Medicaid in these downstate counties to compensate home health aides using the living wage of New York City in order to create wage parity with home care attendants who provide services and supports to Medicaid clients residing in these counties.

The law mandates that the hourly wage for home health aides be incrementally increased until the home health aides reach a $10 per hour wage in 2014 and benefits that equal those that home attendants achieved in the 2011 1199 SEIU collective bargaining agreement. Home attendants, also known as personal care aides, were already subject to Living Wage Laws in the affected counties.

The court “rejected all of the employers’ arguments as to the law’s constitutionality, including the plaintiffs’ argument that references to the New York City statute violated home-rule provisions,” explains a Times Union blog.

“After years of fighting for increased wages for home health aides, wage parity was finally achieved as part of New York’s Medicaid Redesign package in 2011,” PHI New York State Policy Director Carol Rodat said. “This important decision lays to rest the continued resistance to the law and ensures that thousands of home health aides downstate can continue to see increases in wages and benefits.”

In New York State, home care attendants serving Medicaid clients have a higher starting salary yet are required to have fewer hours of entry-level training and in-service training than home health aides.

When the state decided to move the Medicaid home care recipients to Medicaid managed long-term care, policymakers wanted to address these wage disparities between the two types of home care aides in order to decrease turnover as well as to ensure that client-worker relationships were not interrupted should managed-care companies displace home care attendants with lower-paid home health aides.

To learn more about New York State’s Wage Parity Law, see PHI Medicaid Redesign Watch, which is tracking the state’s move to mandatory managed long-term care, with a particular emphasis on the impact on home care workers.

— by Deane Beebe

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