For years, advocates have been pushing New York state lawmakers in Albany to include a wage increase for home health care workers.

This year, a wage increase of $2 was included with an additional $1 increase coming in 2023. State Sen. Rachel May, chair of the Senate Aging Committee, told Capital Tonight the raise is not “insignificant,” but “it’s not what we were asking for” with legislators arguing for a larger increase.

Home health care workers currently make about $13.20 per hour, with that expected to rise to $16.20 with the scheduled wage increase. The industry faces a workforce drain as other industries like retail offer near or more than that current wage. May said there is still an appetite among legislators to increase the wage for these workers.

With an aging population, the need for care for the older New Yorkers continues to grow. May estimates for the cost of at-home care is between $7,000 and $9,000, while nursing home costs could push past $150,000.

“What we’re hoping is that we can convince the Department of the Budget to really recognize that this isn’t just an outlay, but it’s an investment in saving money for taxpayers,” May said.