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We Love You Elly Kleinman!

February 2, 2014

Taking care of elderly people, those with disabilities, and mentally ill people is very difficult and often thankless.  The pay is poor and the work is hard.   Today in the New York Times we find out that the New York State Health Department is recommending expanded licensing for one of the wonderful, self-sacrificing, caring companies that does this hard and thankless work:  Americare.  Yes, this fabulous organization is stepping up to do what the rest of us don’t want to.  The CEO, President, and sole shareholder of Americare, Elly Kleinman, must be a really nice guy.

Here’s how awesome this company and it’s CEO are:

1. In 2005 the New York Medicaid Fraud Control Unit found that Americare had improperly billed medicaid for excessive hours, hours that were not necessary, and hours that are supposed to be provided free of charge.  Americare paid medicaid $7 million (4% of it’s revenue that year).

2. 2012, NY State medicaid directed Americare to pay back overcharges to medicaid.

3. The US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York intervened in a whistleblower case in which a former employee alleged that Americare schemed to defraud medicare and medicaid by obtaining and supplying hundreds of patients through referrals in exchange for kickbacks, and using fraudulent alteration of medical records to justify unnecessary home health services.

4.  Americare, among other companies, forced mentally ill men to undergo unnecessary prostate surgery.  It paid $1.2 million to the victims.

5.  Americare has been illegally terminating or reducing services to customers without warning.

6. In a federal suit filed in October, Mendel Coen, another former employee, accused the company’s chief operating officer, Faivish Pewzner, of forcing him to go along while Mr. Pewzner, known as a pillar of his Orthodox Jewish community, secretly “binged on gambling, illegal drugs and illicit sex” during regular trips to Atlantic City at company expense.

7.  As attorney general, Andrew Cuomo fined Americare $8 million in 2008 for falsely claiming home health aides had been trained to care for Medicaid patients.

8. Kleinman himself has been accused of sexual harassment.

So why is NY State Health Department recommending expanding this fraudulent company’s licensing?  Well, Elly Kleinman is worth about $500 million dollars.  He has close ties to the state’s top Jewish lobbyist organization, Agudas Yisroel.  He gave about $32,000 dollars to political causes last year.  So there’s that.

Another problem is the promise of all that state money.  In 2011 Cuomo did a redesign of state Medicaid.   It shifted tens of thousands of disabled people and frail seniors, and billions of public dollars,  from fee-for-service systems to privately managed long-term care plans. The plans receive a fixed monthly sum for each enrollee — $3,800- regardless of what is actually spent.  Americare had developed relationships with six managed care plans. Of course it has!  All that lovely money, which Elly gets to keep if he doesn’t spend any of it on clients!  NYS Health Department likes that Americare already has relationships in place.  It also likes that Americare is financially viable (sure is!), has a new electronic medical records system (Oooh!) and has plans to reduce the use of home health services.  I’m sure it will.

Can we all just say we’ll boycott Americare?  For the people that Americare “serves” there’s often no choice. So much for government protection of it’s most vulnerable citizens.

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