BUFFALO, N.Y. — The New York state budget implemented a wage increase for home care workers that took effect on Oct. 1, 2022, but leadership with the New York State Association of Healthcare Providers says that money is being pocketed by insurance companies.
Gov. Kathy Hochul announced in April that home care workers would get a raise of $2 an hour this year and another $1 next year. About a week into the raise, home care agencies like Western New York Independent Living alleges workers are only getting a $0.20 to $0.50 hourly increase.
Kathy Febraio, president and CEO of the New York State Association of Healthcare Providers, says the alleged flaw is in how the budget was written, and the that it allegedly does not specify exactly how funds will be distributed. They go through insurance first, then to agencies, then to staff, and she said she believes private insurance companies are taking advantage of that.
"We're hoping that moving forward there's a broader conversation around: What does this system look like? How is it structured? How does it work or not work? And what do we need to do to correct it," Febraio said.
BJ Stasio uses a wheelchair and has been advocating for fair pay for home care so that he can live day-to-day as normally as possible. He testified in front of the New York State Senate in September 2021, sharing his story and explaining that he has been sleeping in his wheelchair. Now as 2022 comes to a close, his situation is the same.
“I’m not living the best quality of life right now, because I have a second blood clot because I’ve been in my chair and just, you know, not moving much,” said Stasio.
Stasio said he is prepared to continue the fight for fair pay until his staffers get the living wage they deserve.
Spectrum News 1 has reached out to state offices and is awaiting comment.