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Slight Update to Health Care Worker Bonus Guidance

Providers who pay a Health Care Worker Bonus (HWB) to a qualified employee who leaves shortly after receiving the bonus should not be left holding the bag. An update to the Employee Separation section of the HWB Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) clarifies a small but important point. Based on existing guidance, a vested employee who is employed at the time that the employer receives the bonus payment, but then leaves within 30 days of the employer receiving the payment, is NOT eligible for the bonus payment. That suggests that an employer who paid the bonus to a worker five days after receiving it would be potentially subject to an overpayment recovery if that worker left two days later, making themselves ineligible. Remember that employers have no more than 30 days from receipt of the bonus payment to distribute it and that once paid, bonuses cannot be recovered by employers.

The new clarification specifies that if the worker leaves in that 30-day period, but the employer has already paid them the bonus, then the worker is deemed eligible and it is an appropriate payment. Why this matters is that if they were deemed ineligible and the employer paid them, such payments would not be overpayments that would need to be reported to the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG) and returned. This helps ensure that providers who pass the bonus to workers promptly do not risk such a “penalty.”

The latest set of HWB FAQs, currently dated May 23rd, is available here.

Contact: Darius Kirstein, dkirstein@leadingageny.org, 518-867-8841