New York distributing bonuses to 'hands-on' healthcare workers statewide—here's who's eligible for up to $3,000

New York is taking healthcare workforce retention into its own hands with a $3,000 payout to certain employees who stay at their post for at least six months, Governor Kathy Hochul’s office announced this week.

“Our bonus program is about more than just thanks, this is an investment in healthcare and with it, we will retain, rebuild and grow our health care workforce and ensure we deliver the highest quality care for New Yorkers," the governor said in the announcement.

The newly launched Health Care and Mental Hygiene Worker Bonus Program is backed by $1.3 billion from the state’s fiscal year 2023 budget.

It authorizes the bonuses to workers providing “hands-on healthcare services” at Medicaid-participating provider organizations or certain other licensed entities, according to the announcement. Alongside healthcare and mental hygiene practitioners, this can include technicians, assistants, support staff and aides, the state said.

The employees must be receiving an annualized base salary of $125,000 or less to be eligible. Although the payments cap at $3,000 per full-time employee, the state is also offering lower payouts to part-time workers commensurate with the number of hours worked per week—for instance, $500 to those working between 20 and 30 hours per week.

Employers will be responsible for submitting eligible employees for the payments via an online portal. The state’s Medicaid program said it will be working with provider associations “to make sure all employers understand and are comfortable with the process.”

New York healthcare leaders said in the announcement that the program is intended to reward frontline healthcare workers while ensuring services can still be delivered to the state’s residents. Hochul has previously discussed her team’s goal to grow New York’s healthcare workforce by 20% over the next five years.

Included in the announcement were statements of support from a selection of the state’s provider associations, healthcare worker labor unions and individual healthcare organizations.

"Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, health care workers did the impossible in order to take care of patients and their families,” NewYork-Presbyterian president and CEO Steven Corwin, M.D., said in an included statement. “They are heroes, and their unwavering commitment to all New Yorkers has been critical throughout this pandemic. By investing in our frontline workers, we are investing in the health of every New Yorker."

Workforce shortages have been a sore spot for the healthcare industry with many being forced to pay out for pricey contract labor during COVID-19 surges. Recent reports suggest those financial stressors are recovering more slowly than expected while the supply of nurses and other workers will remain strained, or even worsen, during the next several months.