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New York Caregiver Shortage in PHI Budget Testimony

February 16, 2017

The New York State legislature held a joint hearing on health and Medicaid provisions in the state budget on Thursday, February 16, 2017. PHI New York Policy Manager Allison Cook testified on behalf of PHI. Cook’s work at PHI focuses on New York policy issues affecting direct care workers, including Medicaid, public benefits, training, career advancement, and workforce development.

Cook’s comments highlight budget provisions that would help ensure quality jobs for home care aides, and enable them to provide quality care to their clients. As Cook points out, in the face of workforce shortages, it is particularly important to invest in the state’s home care workforce.

Among the key recommendations that Cook highlighted were:

  • Establish the Health Care Regulation Modernization Team, as proposed by the Governor. Updating regulations would help home care providers adapt to the changing health care environment.
  • Ensure that Medicaid adequately funds home care through its rates to plans and home care agencies. Inadequate funding hurts the quality of home care jobs by forcing home care agencies to reduce expenditures, often by reducing working ours or jettisoning training programs.
  • Increase home care aide wages to a level that exceeds the minimum wage in order to make home care aide jobs more competitive with retail and restaurant sectors.
  • Create a statewide home care advocate similar to the Office of Paid Caregiving in New York City.
  • Conduct a direct care worker landscape study as the first step toward creating a workforce data system.
  • Provide pilot funding to address the workforce shortage.

“As a state, it’s important that we ensure home care aides are given the wages, training, and supports that attract them to – and keep them in – these jobs and enable them to provide quality care to older adults and people with disabilities,” said Cook. Read her full testimony (pdf).

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