On August 3, 2022, the New York State Department of Health (“DOH”) published an MRT Listserv notice announcing the launch of the Health Care & Mental Hygiene Worker Bonus (HWB) Program and Submission Portal.

The Health Care and Mental Hygiene Worker Bonus allocates $1.3 billion for recruitment and retention bonuses as part of a push to increase the state’s healthcare workforce by 20% over the next five years.

The listserv provides links to:

The listserv also notes that providers with additional questions may contact the Health Care Worker Bonus Call Center at (866) 682-0077 or via email at nysworkersbonus@health.ny.gov.

Considerations for those receiving HWB Funds

  1. Be prepared for a New York State or federal audit in a year or so.

There is too much money going out of the Federal and State budgets to support COVID response/reward efforts to think that no one will audit or review the payments.

  • The HWB audits/reviews are likely to be conducted by New York State regulators, most likely the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (“OMIG”) and the NYS Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (“MFCU”), but other agencies may also be involved (e.g., DOH, Office of Mental Health, Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, etc.).
  • The Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”) at the federal Department of Health and Human Services includes audits of the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) in its Work Plan. CDC is the federal agency through which much of the federal COVID support was directed.
  1. Audits will likely include the following, but this is not an exhaustive list:
  • Was the employer eligible to receive HBW payments?
  • When was the money received by the employer?
  • Were all the eligible employees included in the payments?
  • Did the employer make payments to employees within the time period required by HWB program?
  • Were payments made to persons who were ineligible?
  • Did the employer retain any of the funds for its own non-HWB program uses?
  • Was reporting to the State done on time and include all required data?
  • Was the data reported accurate?
  • Are employee attestation forms collected and maintained?
  • Are required records being maintained?
  1. Providers may want to consider having a self-audit done as part of its annual compliance program review or as part of its annual financial statement audits.

Please contact Senior Counsel Matthew Babcock at mbabcock@harrisbeach.com if you would like more information on this topic.

This alert does not purport to be a substitute for advice of counsel on specific matters.

Harris Beach has offices throughout New York state, including Albany, Buffalo, Ithaca, New York City, Rochester, Saratoga Springs, Syracuse, Uniondale and White Plains, as well as Washington D.C., New Haven, Connecticut and Newark, New Jersey.