In-Depth: NYS budget includes bonuses for frontline healthcare workers

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The new New York State budget will include $1.2 billion in funding to provide frontline healthcare workers with bonuses.

“We have to stop the hemorrhaging of healthcare workers,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said while detailing the funding, “let’s start by stopping the talk of “we owe them a debt of gratitude” and pay them some of that debt.”

In the budget, NYS said the bonuses are to “attract talented people into the health care and mental hygiene professions at a time of significant strain while also retaining those who have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic”.

We have new details on how the program would work:

  • Employees must have a base salary of less than $125,000 to qualify.
  • You must work (or have worked) for six months straight for one employer during the “vesting” period (this includes contract/per-diem work if you meet hourly requirements below but it must be with same agency).
  • The “Vesting” period is any time between Oct. 1, 2021, and March 31, 2024.
  • Employees who work at least 35 hours per week can get a full bonus of $1,500/per vesting period (sliding scale for part-time employees).
  • Employees are eligible for two bonuses equaling a total of $3,000.
  • The employer is responsible for tracking hours and claiming bonuses from the state to distribute to employees.

According to a spokesman for the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance, employees will not have to pay any state or local taxes on the bonuses but they must be claimed as income for federal tax purposes.

According to budget documents, frontline healthcare workers are “practitioners, technicians, assistants and aides that provide hands-on health or care services to individuals without regard to whether the person works full-time, part-time, on a salaried, hourly or temporary basis, or as an independent contract, that received an annualized base salary of $125,000 or less.”

That includes: Physician assistants, dental hygienists, dental assistants, psychiatric aides, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, physical therapists, physical therapy assistants, physical therapy aides, occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, occupational therapy aides, speech-language pathologists, respiratory therapists, exercise physiologists, recreational therapists, all other therapists, orthoptists, prosthetists, clinical laboratory technologists and technicians, diagnostic medical sonographers, nuclear medicine technologists, radiologic technologists, magnetic resonance image technologists, ophthalmic medical technicians, radiation therapists, dietetic technicians, cardiovascular technologists and technicians, certified first responders, emergency medical technicians, advanced emergency medical technicians, paramedics, surgical technologists and all other heath technologists and technicians, orderlies, medical assistants, phlebotomists and all other healthcare support workers, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, nursing assistants and licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses.

Also included: Mental Hygiene Workers, Residence/Site Worker, Counselor (OMH), Manager (OMH), Senior Counselor (OMH, Supervisor (OMH)Developmental Disabilities Specialist QIDP – Direct Care (OPWDD), Certified Recovery Peer Advocate, Peer Professional – Non-CRPA (OASAS Only), Job Coach/Employment Specialist (OMH and OPWDD), Peer Specialist (OMH), Counselor – Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (CASAC),Counseling Aide/Assistant – Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Other Direct Care Staff, Case Manager, Counselor – Rehabilitation, Developmental Disabilities Specialist/Habilitation Specialist QIDP Clinical (OPWDD),Emergency Medical Technician, Intensive Case Manager (OMH), Intensive Case Manager/Coordinator (OMH)Nurse – Licensed Practical, Nurse – Registered; Psychologist (Licensed);Psychologist (Master’s Level)/Behavioral Specialist; Psychology Worker/Other Behavioral Worker; Social Worker – Licensed (LMSW, LCSW);Social Worker – Master’s Level (MSW);Licensed Mental Health Counselor (OASAS, OMH, OCFS);Licensed Psychoanalyst (OMH);Therapist – Recreation; Therapist – Activity/Creative Arts; Therapist, Occupational; Dietician/Nutritionist; Therapy Assistant/Activity Assistant; Nurse’s Aide/Medical Aide; Behavior Intervention Specialist 1 (OPWDD); Behavior Intervention Specialist 2 (OPWDD); Clinical Coordinator; Intake/Screening; Pharmacist ;Marriage and Family Counselor/Therapist; Residential Treatment Facility (RTF) Transition Coordinator (OMH);Crisis Prevention Specialist (OMH);Early Recognition Specialist (OMH).