NY provider advocacy groups say $15 minimum wage threatens viability of organizations, services

Several healthcare provider advocacy groups issued a joint statement warning of the impact of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's (D) proposed $15 minimum wage, saying the additional expenses without new state funding will result in eliminating services and even closing organizations, according to Saratogian Health.

"Our industries are different from fast food establishments and we cannot just pass the costs along to consumers," the statement read. "The services we provide are a public good, to large degree supported by reimbursement from public programs that have long provided a safety net for low-income and elderly New Yorkers. Without adequate state support for any wage increase, many organizations will close, worker hours will be reduced or eliminated, access to care will be imperiled and some of our communities will suffer the loss of quality healthcare services.”

The increase in minimum wages to $15 would cost hospitals $570 million, with the overall cost rising to $2.9 billion when nursing homes and home care agencies are included, according to Melissa Mansfield, a spokesperson for the Healthcare Association of New York.

In their letter, the healthcare groups said the "minimum wage should only be allowed to rise to a level fully matched by immediate funding for the cost impact on providers, as calculated by our healthcare coalition in a rigorous methodology shared extensively with the State Legislature and Governor's office. Additionally, the state must provide full funding for each incremental increase of the minimum wage. Currently, legislative proposals either exclude the wage increase or substantially underfund it, with only $200 million allocated across our entire spectrum of services. The final budget must reconcile these positions so that if an increase in the minimum wage is included, its cost to affected providers is fully funded."

During a recent visit to Albany, Gov. Cuomo dismissed calls for the state to fund the extra cost of the minimum wage hike. "We raise the minimum wage all the time," he said, according to the report. "We've raised it about eight times over the past couple of decades. We have never adjusted the salary — the contracts to reflect the minimum wage increase. Never."

Gov. Cuomo said the high salaries nonprofit healthcare provider executives pocket hurt their case for additional state funding.

"I went through a war with a lot of these not-for-profits where I wanted a $200,000 income cap and they wouldn’t give me a $200,000 income cap for their employees," said Gov. Cuomo, according to the report. "If they have employees making $200,000 in income, they're going to have a tough case coming to me and arguing that they need money to pay their employees a $15 minimum wage."

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