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As part of its 2023 state budget, New York State has allocated $1.2 billion for the payment of bonuses to certain frontline healthcare workers. This bonus program is intended to reward healthcare workers for their services during the COVID-19 pandemic and to promote employee retention and recruitment in the healthcare sector. Qualified employers who wish to participate in the program must submit claims for bonus payments for all of their qualifying employees.

Qualified employers include providers who have at least one employee and provide services that are billable under the New York Medicaid program, including licensed facilities, pharmacies, and school-based health centers licensed under New York State Public Health Law, Mental Hygiene Law, Education Law, and other programs funded by the Office of Mental Health, Office of Aging, Office of Addiction Services and Support, and Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. The definition of a qualified employer under the program is relatively broad; however, a provider that is not subject to a certificate of need process to obtain state licensure or approval (such as private medical practices) will be considered a qualified employer only if at least 20% of its patients are Medicaid beneficiaries. This 20% threshold is based on total patient volume, not total practice revenue attributable to Medicaid billing.

Qualified employers must pay the bonuses to their employees no later than 30 days after New York State pays the funds to the employer. A qualified employer can be subject to penalties for failing to comply with the program.

“Qualified employees” must satisfy the following criteria:

  • Be continuously employed by the qualified employer during at least one vesting period;
  • Have a title included on the list of eligible worker titles[1];
  • Have an annualized base salary (excluding bonuses and overtime) not exceeding $125,000;
  • May be full-time, part-time, temporary employees or independent contractors; and
  • Cannot be suspended or excluded from Medicaid during the vesting period.

The bonuses will be tied to specific “vesting periods,” defined as six-month periods between October 1, 2021 and March 31, 2024. The first vesting period, covering employees who were continuously employed from October 1, 2021 through March 31, 2022, has an application deadline of September 2, 2022. Qualified employees are only eligible to participate in the program for up to two vesting periods and the maximum bonus they can receive is $3,000 per employee. Additional guidance is available on the New York State Department of Health’s website.

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[1] The complete list of titles on the New York State website includes workers who are patient-facing, such as those who provide direct clinical care (e.g., nurses, medical assistants and other licensed staff members), as well as administrative staff who have contact with patients (e.g., front desk clerk).