Both the New York state Senate and Assembly included the May-Gottfried “Fair Pay for Home Care” bill in their one-house budgets. It would direct the state commissioner of health to set regional minimum rates of reimbursement for home care aides under Medicaid and managed care plans. 

The question now is whether Gov. Kathy Hochul will approve the measure.

To ensure they have her attention, advocates for aging and disabled New Yorkers say they are refusing to leave the War Room at the State Capitol until the governor agrees to the funding.

Capital Tonight spoke with Rachel McCullough, campaign director for the NY Caring Majority, about why the issue is so critical.

“The state is facing an urgent crisis. We do not have enough home care workers to care for older adults and disabled people,” McCullough said. “In fact, New York currently faces the worst home care shortage in the nation. And that shortage is only growing worse as our population ages rapidly.”

According to an analysis from the Mercer labor analysis, the state’s critical home care shortage can be blamed in large part on low wages. If the issue isn’t addressed, the home care shortage is projected to increase to 1 million job openings by 2028. 

“That shortage is dangerous,” McCullough said. “Without anyone to care for older adults and disabled people more and more New Yorkers are being forced into nursing homes, which is not a safe place to be during a pandemic.” 

Currently, home care workers are paid what McCullough calls “poverty wages," which are as little as $13.20 in most counties. If “Fair Pay for Home Care” passes, it would raise home care wages and “wipe out” the home care shortage, she said.

“At the same time, this would save the state money by creating new tax revenue and moving home care workers off of social assistance, which they need to be on because of poverty wages,” explained McCullough.

The bill would raise the minimum wage for home care workers to up to $22.50 an hour.