Money in the doctor's pocket close up. Costs for the medical insurance. Concept of corruption. Healthcare payment concept
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After announcing a $1.2 billion healthcare worker bonus program in early August, New York state has updated its program guidance and extended the grace period for submitting claims during the first vesting period.

The New York State Health Care and Mental Hygiene Worker Bonus Program is providing bonuses to frontline healthcare workers who provide hands-on health or care services to recognize their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Healthcare workers are the foundation of our medical system, and we need to acknowledge the sacrifices they have made to bring us through these challenging times,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said in a release launching the program last month. “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 healthcare workforce and ensure we deliver the highest quality care for New Yorkers.”

The program provides $1,500 bonuses per “vesting” period — or hours worked during a specific period — to “recruit, retain and reward healthcare and mental hygiene workers,” up to a total of $3,000 per eligible worker. Workers are eligible for payments under two vesting periods that run between Oct. 1, 2021, and March 31, 2024.

Worker eligibility also is based on earning less than $125,000 per year and remaining in a position for at least six months.

Eligible employers include adult care facilities, nursing homes, hospices and other healthcare providers. This population includes certain providers that bill under the state Medicaid plan, bill under the home- and community-based services waiver or bill for Medicaid through a managed care organization or managed long-term care plan.

The first vesting period previously was slated to close Sept. 2 but was extended to Oct. 31. The state also clarified that managers and supervisors are not automatically excluded from the program. Home care workers also remain ineligible for the bonuses since they are eligible for a wage increase that will go into effect in October.

Attorneys from Little Mendelson PC recommended in a blog post that employers navigating the bonus program keep apprised of the updated guidance. 

Read more state news here.