Northam directs $73M to home health care worker hazard pay
Workers to receive one-time $1.5K payment
Home health care workers who served elderly people or those suffering from disabilities during the early months of the pandemic will receive a one-time $1,500 hazard payment from the state government, Gov. Northam announced Thursday.
Northam announced $73 million in federal CARES Act funding would be disbursed among an estimated 43,500 home health care workers who served high-risk patients on Medicaid between March 12 and June 30.
“Home health care workers are often unseen, unsung and underpaid, but they do the vital work of caring for vulnerable Virginians,” Northam said in a statement. “Their jobs put them at higher risk during this pandemic, and this hazard payment is a way we can acknowledge that they put themselves in harm’s way to help others. I want to thank our home health care workers for the work they do every day to keep people healthy.”
The state budget that took effect July 1 also included a 7% pay raise during the next two years for home health care workers and the Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) is working to provide home health care workers with additional personal protective equipment.
“The majority of home health care workers are women, and women of color, providing critical health services for low pay,” state Sen. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth), chairwoman of the Senate Education and Health Committee, said in a statement. “This hazard payment acknowledges the essential work that they do and the risks they took especially in the early months of the pandemic, when less was known about this virus. It is one way we can show appreciation to the people who do such important work.”
DMAS, which oversees Virginia’s Medicaid program, will work with providers to administer hazard payments to eligible workers.
“Home health care workers have been on the front lines of the pandemic, working every day to keep our community safe,” David Broder, president of Service Employees International Union Virginia 512, which represents personal care attendants, said in a statement. “This hazard pay recognizes their essential work. It’s an important investment that will support families and keep overall costs down for our health care system.”