Minimum-wage hikes could deepen shortage of health aides

Stephanie Bushey, Katue BusheyThe Associated Press
In this March 11, 2017 photo, Stephanie Bushey reads to her daughter Katie Bushey, 32, at their home in West Chazy, N.Y. Katie lost her vocal and motor skills at birth relies on assistance from home health aides during the day while Stephanie is at work. Advocates for the disabled, elderly and chronically ill in New York are concerned the state’s move to a $15 minimum wage could deepen a shortage of home health aides. (AP Photo/Anna Gronewold)

Advocates for the disabled, elderly and chronically ill in New York are concerned the state's move to a $15 minimum wage could deepen a shortage of home health aides.

More than 180,000 Medicaid patients in New York are authorized to receive long-term, in-home care, the most in the state's history. But there are increasingly too few aides to go around, especially in the state's remote, rural areas.

It's a national problem that advocates say could get worse when the state's $15 minimum goes statewide by 2021. It could potentially push low-paid health aides into other jobs, in retail or fast-food, that don't require hours of training or the pressure of keeping another person alive.

New York state employs about 326,000 home health workers, but is projected to need another 125,000 by 2024.