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Hazard pay authorized for some home health workers

RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) – More than $70 million in federal CARES Act funding will go toward providing hazard pay for some home health workers.

Governor Ralph Northam made the announcement Thursday. A total of $73 million will provide an estimated 43,500 home health care workers with a one-time, pre-tax payment of $1,500. The payments are for those who provided personal care and who served Medicaid members between March 12 and June 30, 2020.

“Home health care workers are often unseen, unsung, and underpaid, but they do the vital work of caring for vulnerable Virginians,” said Governor Northam. “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.”

In addition to the hazard payments, the state budget that went into effect in July included a seven percent pay raise over two years for home health workers. The Department of Medical Assistance Services is also working to provide workers with personal protective equipment, according to the governor’s office.

“Home health care workers have been on the front lines of the pandemic, working every day to keep our community safe,” said David Broder, President of Service Employees International Union Virginia 512, which represents personal care attendants. “Home care workers, primarily Black and brown women, are instrumental in helping older adults and people with disabilities lead healthy and active lives, safe at home, and in the community. That was especially important earlier this year when nursing homes faced outbreaks. This hazard pay recognizes their essential work. It’s an important investment that will support families and keep overall costs down for our healthcare system.”

DMAS, which oversees Virginia’s Medicaid program, will work with providers to administer payments to eligible workers in the coming weeks.

Copyright 2020 WDBJ. All rights reserved.

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