NY Gov. Kathy Hochul at podium
NY Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) Credit: Pool / Pool/Getty Images (rights managed)

New York state provider groups are turning up the heat on Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) to include the New York Home Care First Act in the 2024 budget proposal she will unveil Wednesday in Albany.

The legislation was first introduced a year ago but was left out of the final fiscal 2023 budget. Home Care Association of New York State (HCA) President Al Cardillo told McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse his organization wants the state to address infrastructure problems that have led to New York’s massive caregiver crisis.

“The focus has been on worker salaries, not on the support of operations, care management, supervision and other important aspects of the agencies,” Cardillo explained.

“We’re talking about staffing capacity, technological capacity for electronic information exchange, a satellite office of a [home health] agency in a region that is underserved. We are talking about all of that.” 

The Home Care First Act would ensure that home care is a priority option for patients who might otherwise be referred to an institution for care. It also provides funding for programs that support home care, as well as funding for caregiver training. 

Last week, HCA and two other provider groups penned a letter to Hochul that highlighted ways hospitals and home care agencies can successfully collaborate to provide both medical and behavioral health at home. The groups said the COVID-19 pandemic proved care can be effectively provided in the home through models such as hospital-at-home. However, they also said there must be better coordination between health systems and home care agencies, as well as less onerous regulations.

“When you look at models like this it really identifies gaps and barriers in the system that need to be overcome,” Cardillo said. “There are worker shortages, but when you create something that works together you can overcome those kinds of gaps.” 

The current budget Hochul signed into law last summer included a $3 wage increase for home healthcare workers, but that increase fell short of a call to raise wages to 150% of the state’s minimum wage. 

The pressure in New York to move more care into the home comes less than a week after a bipartisan team of lawmakers in Washington reintroduced the Better Care Better Jobs Act, which would provide an estimated $300 million to expand home- and community-based services.