New HCA Report Shows Devastating Impact of Pandemic on Home Care Finances and Access 

Capitol Report | February 2021

At a time when home care providers face a 50% workforce recruitment-and-retention funding cut and other reductions in New York’s budget, HCA has issued a new report showing the devastating impact of COVID-19 on home care operations on top of longstanding financial pressures.

Alongside the report, HCA is calling on the Governor and state Legislature to restore funds for home care workforce and services, assisted by federal aid.

Making the case, HCA’s State of the Industry report brings together an analysis of Medicaid cost report data, state and federal labor statistics, COVID-19 survey responses, and answers from home care providers on HCA’s most recent annual finance and trends survey, completed in January.

Among the key findings of HCA’s 2021 report for New York providers:

  • 55% of all home care agencies in New York are estimated to have had a negative operating margin in 2019, the most recent year of data available, not accounting for the impact of the pandemic.
  • Home care agencies in New York saw a 136% increase in costs for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and an estimated $200 million in overall increased costs attributable to the pandemic on top of existing pre-pandemic financial pressures.
  • One-third of New York providers have relied on limited, short-term Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds from the federal stimulus program just to meet payroll, and most agencies are relying on some form of short-term financing or borrowing to sustain services.
  • 85% of home care agencies in New York report that existing structural workforce shortages have been greatly amplified by COVID-19. Approximately 44% of home care and hospice agencies have experienced a decrease of 11% or more in their home health aide and personal care aide workforce capacity since March 7, 2020 when the public health emergency was declared.
  • Home care staff turnover rates are 23 percent and 29 percent, on average, for nursing and aide staff, respectively, in New York.
  • A rising demand for services continues to outpace employment in the home health sector — a long-term trend. Yet 2020 was the first year of decline in home health aide employment following a six-year period of growth in New York.

“At no other time has the role of home care shined more heroically, inviting bold action,” said HCA President Al Cardillo in a press release last week. “Not only is home care a cost-effective service, but it is also directed to the individualized needs of a patient in their own homes, minimizing avoidable person-to-person contact that is otherwise unavoidable in other settings.”

“Yet home care services and workforce are facing cuts in this year’s state budget on top of longstanding under-investment,” he added. “A clear first step is to restore the proposed workforce recruitment-and-retention and service funds and then rededicate longer-term investments to the resiliency of these safety-net services.”