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Governor Kathy Hochul plans to spend $ 10 billion to improve New York’s healthcare system, including wage increases and bonuses for workers to address staff shortages plaguing hospitals and nursing homes .
The Democratic governor’s 2022 budget proposal, presented on Wednesday, sets a goal of growing the state’s healthcare workforce by 20% over the next five years.
Among the highlights of the Hochul state spending plan for 2022:
- $ 2 billion to support the salaries of healthcare workers.
- $ 2 billion to support retention bonuses for health and mental hygiene workers, with up to $ 3,000 in bonuses for full-time workers who stay for one year, and pro-rated bonuses for those who work fewer hours.
- $ 500 million for cost of living adjustments to help raise wages for social service workers.
- $ 2 billion for health care infrastructure and improved laboratory capacity.
Hochul’s plan also aimed to reduce other financial and logistical pressures on healthcare workers, many of whom work long hours and some try to balance family, work and continuing education.
The plan includes direct financial support for training medical professionals, provided they work in New York for a specified period after graduation. It would offer free tuition, cover training costs for high-demand health professions, and provide allowances to compensate for lost income while studying.
It would also include wrap-around services such as child care or transportation assistance to overcome barriers that hinder New Yorkers’ training for health professions.
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Supporting workers and hospitals in the COVID-19 era
The state’s spending program, in many ways, apparently targets some of the fundamental and historic flaws in New York’s health care system, which came to light during the COVID-19 pandemic.
State tax dollars would be focused on solving everything from underpaid medical workers and unaffordable health insurance costs to systemic racism and inequalities within medicine.
“We have to stop the current bleeding of health care workers, and we are going to do it not only by telling them that we owe them a debt of gratitude, but by actually paying them the debt that we owe,” Hochul said in his statement. state of the state speech Wednesday in Albany.
“The health of every New Yorker depends on a strong, stable and equitable health care system, and health care workers are its very foundation,” she added.
Many details of New York’s healthcare system improvement plan will be spelled out in the coming days, as the governor releases the executive’s budget, which will then be debated by state lawmakers with the goal of enacting a state budget by April.
The budget process will unfold as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations increase statewide, as the highly contagious omicron variant has strained hospitals and nursing homes and fueled new debates on public health policy.
Many hospitals and nursing homes have faced staffing shortages due to a mixture of pandemic exhaustion, national competition for medical staff and refusal to comply with the state’s vaccine mandate. . Several health systems, from the Finger Lakes to the Hudson Valley, have shut down emergency care and doctor’s offices due to staff shortages, while others have suspended elective care in hospitals.
Hochul’s plan also included investments in community and home care aimed at keeping elderly and frail New Yorkers at home and out of long-term care facilities.
It would also expand Essential Plan eligibility for New Yorkers, raising the 200% federal poverty line to at least 250%, subject to federal approval.
Several spending initiatives have focused on expanding telehealth services which proved crucial during the pandemic.
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