NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Democrats in the New York State Senate want Gov. Andrew Cuomo to increase the number of healthcare workers who must be tested for COVID-19 each week.

It’s a costly issue for one family and their elderly mother, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported.

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Home health aides help care for 900,000 New Yorkers, visiting many at their residences. They’re required to wear personal protective equipment and screen themselves for coronavirus symptoms twice daily.

But, Peter Harckham and 21 other state senators say that’s not enough.

In a letter, the senators told the Cuomo Administration they’re demanding home care aides be tested for COVID-19 weekly.

“There was concern because you have a fragile homebound population, and the aides are coming and going, some of them going to two or three client houses at a time,” said Harckham.


Some aides are being tested.

Home care aides with clients in nursing homes and assisted living centers must be tested for coronavirus every week, under one of the governor’s executive orders.

That is a costly conundrum for the Tilevitz family.

“My mother is 95 years old, she has advanced dementia, hasn’t spoken in about five years,” said Harris Tilevitz.

His mother has lived in Atria Assisted Living for eight years, and now receives 24/7 supplemental care from Addus Home Care.

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But, Addus won’t pay for its aides to be tested for coronavirus.

Atria will do the testing, billing the Tilevitz family $2,400 a month.

“And that is added to the $16,000 a month that we pay for private aides,” said Tilevitz.

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There are many free or low-cost community coronavirus testing sites.

But, Tilevitz said the logistics of getting four aides to one of these sites every week are daunting, especially after going for tests the first week.

“They’ve been told not to come back again because the insurance won’t cover the remaining tests,” said Tilevitz.

“I think it should be a billable expense for Medicare and Medicaid,” said Harckham.

Harckham said the finances of the families and health of workers and clients are important and that senators will push the Cuomo Administration for action.

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A spokesman for the industry said 200,000 people work as home care aides in New York, so testing all of them weekly would be a huge undertaking. The industry said testing is not necessary given the use of PPE and screening for symptoms.