(WSYR-TV) – In an effort to strengthen and bolster the health care workforce, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the launch of a $1.3 billion program to boost the pay of health care and mental hygiene workers.

Enacted in the 2023 New York State Budget, the incentives are a key initiative in Governor Hochul’s goal to increase the health care workforce by 20% over the next five years.

Who’s eligible?

  • Workers making $125,000 annually or less (excluding bonuses/overtime pay)
  • Must be in position for at least six months
  • Full-time, part-time or temporary employees eligible

Bonuses for employees will be determined by specific “vesting periods,” or hours worked during a consecutive six-month period between October 1, 2021, through March 31, 2024.   

A qualified employee can receive up to a maximum of $3,000 in total bonus payments over two vesting periods.

Qualified employees who work:  

  • At least 20 hours but no more than 30 hours per week are eligible for a bonus of $500
  • At least 30 hours but no more than 35 hours per week are eligible for a bonus of $1,000
  • At least 35 hours per week are eligible for a bonus of $1,500

Hochul said the incentive bonuses are more than about a pay increase.

Throughout the pandemic, including the early days when many were hunkered down at home, our health care workers and first responders have shown up day after day to keep New Yorkers healthy and save lives,” Hochul said. “Health care 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.”

Employees can not receive bonuses if they have ever been suspended or excluded from the Medicaid program. And they must be enrolled in the program by employers, who are responsible for awarding funds no later than 30 days after approval.

For more information on the Health Care and Mental Hygiene Worker Bonus program, click here.