Home health care workers were expected to get a $2 an hour wage increase beginning this weekend.

They are calling on the Hochul administration to lean on insurance companies to pay workers what they are owed.

“I take care of people who are sick in their home,” worker Margarita Pillot said.

What You Need To Know

  • Home health care workers are expected to get a $2 an hour increase beginning this weekend

  • But the state pays those dollars directly to insurance companies, and workers fear they will withhold those increases

  • Elected officials want the Hochul administration to intervene on behalf of the workers

Pillot is one of 450,000 home health care workers in New York State who fear insurance companies will withhold those pay raises.

“When they gave us the $2, it was going to be something really bad for the companies,” she continued.

The state’s population over the age of 65 is expected to grow by 25% over the next 20 years, adding even more home health care jobs. But there aren’t enough workers to fill those jobs now, which advocates attribute to low wages.

“New York is facing the worst health care worker shortage in the nation,” Adria Powell of Cooperated Home Care Associates said. “Fair pay for home care is designed to lift up the wages of home care workers and to end the worker shortage.”

As part of this year’s state budget, workers were given a $2 hourly increase. But that money goes to insurance companies first instead of directly to the workers.

“New Yorkers state is giving private insurance companies hundreds of millions of dollars that should be going to home care agencies and workers. At the current rate, insurance companies could stand to profit by more than $200 million that is intended for workers,” Powell said.

“The pay raise we enacted this year is nowhere near enough, but it’s a start,” Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried said. “But we urgently need strong action by the Health Department to make sure that this increase actually gets into the pockets of the home care workers.”

In a statement, Hazel Crampton-Hayes, a spokesperson for the governor, says, “Gov. Hochul made historic investments in the health care workforce in her first budget and remains committed to rebuilding New York State’s health care workforce.“

“It’s not something we need to fix,” says Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, Democrat of Manhattan. “It’s something we need to just prevail upon the administration to fix.”

Home health care workers say they are not satisfied with the current increase they plan to press upon the legislature and the governor to further increase wages as part of next year’s budget due at the end of March.