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Home health workers to receive hazard pay

RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Home health personal care attendants who served in high-risk populations during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic will be receiving hazard pay.

 

According to a news release, this is coming from $73 million in CARES Act funding.

 

A one-time, pre-tax payment of $1,500 will also be available to an estimated 43,500 home health care workers who provided personal care serving Medicaid members between March 12 and June 30.

 

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

 

The state budget that went into effect on July 1 also included a seven percent pay raise over two years for home health workers. The Department of Medical Assistance Services is working to provide those workers with personal protective equipment, which includes masks, gloves and hand sanitizer.

 

State Senator Louise Lucas, who is chairwoman of the Senate Education and Health Committee, said the hazard pay is one of the ways appreciation can be shown for the essential work done.

 

“The majority of home health care workers are women, and women of color, providing critical health services for low pay,” said Lucas. “This hazard payment acknowledges the essential work that they do and the risks they took especially in the early months of the pandemic, when less was known about this virus. It is one way we can show appreciation to the people who do such important work.”

 

“Home health care workers are unsung heroes even in the best of times, and the pandemic has put them at higher risk and under greater stress,” said Delegate Mark Sickles, Chairman of the House Health, Welfare, and Institutions Committee. “This hazard payment is a way to show these workers that we value them and the essential work that they do.”

 

The Department of Medical Assistance Services oversees Virginia’s Medicaid program and will work with providers over the coming weeks to administer the payments to eligible workers.