New York State Authorizes Advanced Home Health Aides, Enabling More New Yorkers to Live With Dignity In their Homes and Communities

New Law Will Allow Home Health Aides to Obtain More Advanced Skills and Provide Support for Caregivers

ALBANY, N.Y. (December 2, 2016) – The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) today announced a new law that establishes a job category known as Advanced Home Health Aides, home health aides who receive additional training and act under the supervision of a licensed registered professional nurse to carry out advanced tasks. The law will make it easier for New Yorkers to live in their homes instead of institutional settings and provide support to their family members who care for them.

"Home health aides are a vital part of New York's healthcare system," said Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker. "The need for home health aides will continue to grow, and opportunities for advancement will encourage more people to enter this important profession. With this new law, we will have more skilled home health aides not only supporting their clients but helping individual caregivers by shouldering more of the burden of care."

State Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia said, "By allowing authorized home health aides to provide expanded services to patients in home care settings, the AHHA legislation fills a known gap in care. We hope that this will result in substantial patient benefit. It is important that health care workers provide services at the top of their proficiencies, and this bill can enable that to happen.Our Department, as well as the Department of Health, will work to develop regulations and guidelines to ensure that the most appropriate services are provide only by adequately trained personnel."

The law gives certified home health aides an additional career path by providing them with the opportunity to obtain more advanced skills. The tasks to be performed by advanced home health aides will include administering routine or pre-filled medications that are easy to give, such as injections of insulin or epinephrine, as well as other tasks to be defined in regulations. The regulations will take into account the guidance of a workgroup of stakeholders, which recommended that advanced home health aides be permitted to carry out tasks such as administering eye drops and applying topical medications to skin. Advanced home health aides will be supervised by licensed registered professional nurses employed by home care agencies, hospice programs or enhanced assisted living residences.

The idea to establish a category of advanced home health aides grew out of a workgroup convened by the Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT) in 2011. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo proposed making the necessary statutory changes in several of his Executive Budgets and a 2014 Program Bill. The final bill was passed earlier this year in June.

Today's signing enables the New York State Education Department and the NYSDOH to move forward with the development of regulations to specify the advanced tasks that could be performed by advanced home health aides, as soon as 18 months from today. Individuals who meet the qualifications, training and competency requirements outlined in the regulations will be able to perform as advanced home health aides and listed in the state's Home Care Registry.

With this measure, the State takes another step towards fulfilling its commitment – reflected in the work of the MRT, the State Health Innovation Plan, the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment Program, and the State's Olmstead Implementation Plan – to promote a workforce aligned with these ongoing transformative efforts, improve access to coordinated, quality care that enhances individual quality of life and population health, and ensure that individuals with disabilities receive the services and supports they need in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs.

Senator Ken LaValle said, "This new law will improve the quality of life for ill family members who require the administration of certain medications. It creates a new level of advanced home health aides who will be able to administer medications at homeunder the supervision of a registered professional Nurse. Assisting families with alternative home health care options while protecting patient safety is the number one priority of this legislation."

Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick said,"New Yorkers with disabilities should not need to leave their homes and communities in order to receive the supports and services they require. Upon receiving additional training, demonstrating sufficient proficiency and under the supervision of a licensed registered nurse, advanced home health aides are poised to make it easier for disabled New Yorkers to safely receive quality healthcare at home. I applaud Governor Cuomo for signing this important legislation into law."

George Gresham, President of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, said, "We thank the Governor for signing the Advanced Home Health Aide bill championed by Assemblymember Glick and Senator LaValle as well as the Assembly and Senate leadership. This important legislation will ensure that seniors, people with disabilities and other vulnerable New Yorkers can receive the quality services they need at home. It will also create a career ladder for home care workers who deliver those services. This was a years-long effort by workers, consumers, providers and other advocates to improve our long term care services and we are very gratified that it this is now law. We look forward to working with Governor Cuomo's administration on its implementation."

Lindsay Miller, Executive Director for the New York Association on Independent Living, said, "We applaud the Governor and legislature for supporting the right of seniors and people with disabilities to stay in the community by establishing the advanced home health aide program. Once implemented, this program will help thousands of New Yorkers to leave nursing facilities and other institutions and receive the services they need to live independently and age in place in the community."

Dave McNally, the New York Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy at AARP said, "We are grateful to the Governor, Senator LaValle and Assemblymember Glick, for their commitment to creating the position of advanced home health aide, which will help New Yorkers age where they prefer—in their own homes. With a rapidly aging population, the need for home health aides is only going to increase, especially for aides who can meet the basic healthcare needs of older New Yorkers."

Carol Rodat, Senior Program Manager at the Center for Health Workforce Studies, said, "This new law prepares the home health aide workforce to play a more active role in the care of our citizens who need and desire care in their homes and communities. Retention of the aide workforce will be improved and home health aide skills will be enhanced. As New York endeavors to provide high quality accessible care to those in need, the Advanced Home Health Aide is an important step towards this goal."