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What you need to know about the New York State healthcare bonus program – MedCity News

What you need to know about the New York State healthcare bonus program – MedCity News

While much of the world was quarantining and working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic, healthcare workers were on the front-line treating patients, working to combat this public health crisis. To recognize this sacrifice, New York State announced on August 3, 2022 that $1.3 billion dollars will be allotted to fund the introduction of a Healthcare Worker Bonus Program. The program, added within the 2022-2023 New York State budget, is meant to support the retention of existing healthcare workers, while encouraging others to pursue the field at a time when understaffing continues to plague healthcare systems across the state.

While this announcement serves as a much-deserved recognition for this vital workforce, healthcare workers and employers alike may be wondering what this means for them. Thankfully, the new regulations have laid out clear guidelines for identifying program beneficiaries and correctly processing bonus benefits. Here is a basic step-by-step guide for providers to ensure they are following the program accordingly.

  • Determine who qualifies 

First, it is imperative that employers thoroughly review the law and identify whether they meet the criteria for required implementation. There is a wide range of employers covered, including hospitals, nursing homes, behavioral health facilities, school districts, and much more. Essentially, any healthcare institution that bills to the Medicaid State Plan or the Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) waiver – or is a certified educational institution – is required to abide by the new law.

To ensure that bonuses can be executed accordingly, providers must enroll in eMedNY – a part of the state’s Medicaid system – with an active Medicaid Management Information System (MMIS) ID number. Once enrolled, providers can begin enrolling as soon as next month for benefits.

When it comes to workers, there are a few more criterion that must be established to determine eligibility. To benefit, workers must be employed continuously for the duration of a vesting period on a base salary of less than $125,000, have worked an average of at least 20 hours per week during the vesting period and have an employee title that is included on the list provided by the state. All employees that meet these criteria are eligible, including employees that were hired by a consultancy or staffing agency.

  • Follow all reporting & payment requirements

Once an employer has determined that they qualify for the program, it is critical that they follow all guidelines per the law regarding reporting and payments. First, an employer must identify all employees at their organization that are covered under the program, and subsequently submit bonus claims on their behalf within 30 days of publishing the vesting schedule. They are also responsible for ensuring each qualified employee completes an Employee Attestation Form, and then maintain the form for six years.

Once all paperwork is properly filed and bonuses are issued to providers, they have a maximum of 30 days to distribute the funds to qualified employees or face a $1,000 penalty for violating terms.

  • Distribute funds accordingly

While all healthcare workers serve a critical role in patient care, the Healthcare Worker Bonus Program tiers bonus distributions based on total hours worked per week within a vesting period. For example, those that work 20 to 30 hours per week will receive $500 per period, while those that work 35 hours or more per week are entitled to $1,500. One important caveat, however, is that bonuses cannot exceed $3,000 under any circumstance. Bonuses will be distributed along with weekly payments received from eMedNY or the State Financial System.

While this can seem like a daunting and complicated task for many employers, managing implementation of the new law step by step can ensure that it is done correctly and in the right order. A great place to start is by bringing together the senior leadership team and department heads that oversee human resources to divide up responsibilities for completing requirements in a timely manner. To properly navigate the potential implications to overall financial reporting, it may be advantageous to work with a qualified financial consultant with a specialty in healthcare to manage the organization’s ledger.

Author’s Note: The summary information presented in this article should not be considered legal advice or counsel.

Photo: nito100, Getty Images