Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that COLLYER GOODMAN, a/k/a “West,” was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in supplying at least 14 other drug dealers with cocaine and crack cocaine in Middletown, New York. GOODMAN was convicted after a jury trial in October of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine. Numerous other members of the conspiracy, including Juan Beniquez, a/k/a “Johnny,” have already been sentenced. Beniquez was sentenced to 9 years in prison. U.S. District Court Judge Cathy Seibel imposed the sentences. Several other members of the conspiracy, including Oscar Boria Jr., and Damon Wheeler, are expected to be sentenced this spring.
Monday, March 19, 2018
A.G. Schneiderman's Health Care Helpline Recovers Nearly $2 Million In Restitution And Savings For Consumers
New Report Shows Health Care Bureau’s Free Investigative Helpline – 800-428-9071 – Handled over 2,500 Cases for New Yorkers Improperly Billed and Denied Benefits In 2017
Report Shares Examples of HCB’s Assistance, Including Reversing Denial of Coverage for Woman Wrongfully Billed Over $24,000 for Care of Her Child After Birth
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today released a report detailing the work of his Health Care Bureau’s Helpline, a free service offered by the Office of the Attorney General that has investigated and resolved over 2,500 consumer complaints during the past year – saving or returning almost $2 million in health care expenses to consumers. The service has also helped countless New Yorkers access medically necessary care or prescription medication previously denied to them.
“I’m proud of the free, vital service our Health Care Helpline provides to New York families. By intervening in claims to ensure timely, adequate, and cost-effective care, our Helpline advocates have saved New Yorkers millions of dollars – while helping ensure that they have access to the critical medical care they need,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “As uncertainty surrounding the future of health care grows, New Yorkers can rely on our Health Care Helpline to protect their rights and guard against predatory medical practices.”
The Health Care Bureau’s 2017 Annual Report, Real Solutions for Real New Yorkers, details the work of Helpline advocates to resolve consumer complaints, and discusses some of the major cases handled by the bureau.
The Attorney General’s toll-free HCB Helpline – 800-428-9071 – is available for New Yorkers to report and resolve health care complaints and concerns ranging from simple payment processing errors to complex deceptive business practices. Consumers can also use the Attorney General’s online complaint form to lodge a complaint.
During 2017, Helpline staff handled 2,515 consumer complaints and provided another 3,050 consumers with information or referred them to an appropriate agency for assistance. These consumer complaints include issues such as incorrect medical billing, wrongful health plan rejection, improper processing of health insurance claims, and wrongful termination of health insurance.
- In one case, a consumer contacted the Helpline because she was being billed more than $24,000 by a hospital for the care of one of her twins after birth. After a Helpline advocate intervened, the denial of coverage was reversed.
- In another case, a consumer contacted the Helpline regarding her health plan’s denial of coverage for prescription medication for her son who was taking a particular medication (Quillivant XR) that, after trying other medications, was the only medication that successfully treated the son’s ADHD. The consumer’s request was particularly urgent because the health plan had denied continuation of the prescription as not medically necessary, leaving the child without medication for almost two weeks. Once a Helpline advocate intervened, the medication was approved.
- A consumer contacted the Helpline because while the health plan agreed to pay in full for the consumer’s gender reassignment surgery, the plan only paid half. After a Helpline advocate filed an inquiry, the plan paid in full as agreed. The Helpline advocate also discovered that the consumer had to pay out-of-pocket for other covered procedures that the health plan denied coverage for. The Helpline advocate filed a second inquiry, and the denial of coverage was reversed. Restitution to the consumer totaled $9,700.
- After receiving a complaint that Brooklyn Hospital Medical Center had illegally billed a sexual assault survivor seven separate times for a forensic rape exam (FRE) administered in the hospital’s emergency room, the HCB conducted an investigation that found that in 85 out of 86 cases between 2015 and 2017, the hospital either improperly billed the patient directly, or billed the patient’s insurance plan without advising the patient of the choice of payment options as required by law. After these revelations, the Attorney General’s office secured a settlement requiring Brooklyn Hospital to pay restitution to improperly billed survivors, maintain and properly disseminate a Sexual Assault Victim Policy that prevents improper billing, and pay $15,000 to New York State. The investigation also led to HCB’s statewide investigation of improper hospital billing for FREs, which is currently underway.
While not all complaints can be resolved favorably, the Helpline can often provide reliable, objective information. Additionally, Helpline advocates work to ensure that any negative effects from improper medical billing or insurance claims are removed from credit reports.
The complaints handled by the Helpline highlight the challenges faced by New York health care consumers and are an important means of identifying systemic problems in New York’s health care system. These complaints often provide the basis for further investigation and enforcement actions. For example, after receiving a consumer complaint from an Oxford health plan member that she was receiving bills from a provider of infusion supplies, when the infusion supplies had previously been covered by her plan, the HCB conducted an expanded investigation of Oxford. As a result of the investigation, it was determined that a total of 2,587 claims were improperly denied, totaling nearly $500,000. Oxford agreed to reprocess the claims and pay providers where payment for claims were outstanding, and ensure restitution to consumers who had already paid providers. Oxford was also required to pay $35,000 to New York State.
For more information about services provided by the Attorney General’s Health Care Bureau Helpline, click here.
Consumers who believe that they may have been treated unfairly by a health care provider, HMO or insurance plan, or health-related business should contact the Attorney General’s Health Care Helpline by either calling the Helpline at 1-800-428-9071, or by submitting a complaint form online or by mail. Instructions for submitting a complaint form by mail are also provided on the website.
Over 300 people attended the 44th Annual Morris Park Community association Dinner Dance Saturday night at Marina Del Rey. The MPCA honored Mr. Thomas Messina of Congressman Joseph Crowley's office, and PS 83 Principle Stewart Sorrell. On hand were Congressman Eliot Engel, State Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, and new Councilman Mark Gjonaj. Also on hand were both of the candidates looking to replace Councilman Gjonaj as the Assembly member for the 80th Assembly District, Ms Nathalia Fernandez, and Mr. Gene DeFrancis. Many local Bronx community leaders and party leaders were on hand including the Bronx Republican County Leader Mr. Michael Rendino.
Above - MPCA President Al D'Angelo welcomes everyone as he introduces State Senator Jeff Klein who is standing with the MPCA Executive Board.
Below - Honoree Stewart Sorrell Principal of PS 83 thanks the MPCA for honoring him, as he tells a little about himself. Congressman Engel, Senator Klein, Assemblyman Benedetto, Councilman Gjonaj, and Honoree Thomas Messina (back left) are with the MPCA Executive Board.
Above - Honoree Thomas Messina wanted to have a good time.
Below - Congressman Eliot Engel, Councilman Mark Gjonaj, 80th A.D. Special Election Democratic candidate Nathalia Fernandez, an aide to Ms. Fernandez, and Chief of Staff to Congressman Engel Bill Weitz.
Throggs Neck Houses Tenant Leader Nichole Johnson, and Bronx GOP Leader Michael Rendino.
Community Board No. 8 Bronx is pleased to announce that it is once again seeking nominations for its Annual Community Service Award.
Bronx Community Board No. 8 established the Community Service Award to acknowledge the many volunteer efforts of groups and individuals within our community. It is our belief that by recognizing our committed community volunteers, we can in some small way reward those most deserving and inspire others to follow their example.
We are seeking to identify individuals or groups within our community that have volunteered personal time to improve lives in some way, big or small.
We encourage you to distribute the attached press release to your membership, supporters and friends, to ensure that all community volunteers receive consideration for this award and are recognized for their efforts.
Nominations are due by .
Community Board 8 Community Service
ENGEL DENOUNCES RUSSIAN ELECTION AND PUTIN’S ATTACK ON DEMOCRACY
Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs today made the following statement regarding the Russian presidential election:
“Yet again, Russia has shown its disregard and contempt for democratic values and processes. With this sham election, Vladimir Putin has further stripped Russian citizens of their rights to freely choose their political leadership and government.
“This should not be considered a real election—it was an orchestrated farce to ensure Putin’s continued grip on power. All real alternative candidates were barred from the election, and many Russian voters were forced under threat to vote for Putin. Sadly, this comes as no surprise, as Putin—a dictator in everything but name—continues to tighten his authoritarian hold over Russia. Putin and his cronies have disdain and disrespect for democracy, coupled with a reckless pursuit of power: their malign plotting has disrupted the elections of the United States, our foreign allies, and Russia herself.
“I hope the administration will join me in denouncing this attack on the political rights of Russian citizens and Putin’s continued assault on democratic governance throughout the world.”
Engel Welcomes Juvenile Diabetes Advocates to Washington
Congressman Eliot L. Engel, a member of the House Diabetes Caucus and a top member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee, last week welcomed NY-16 advocates representing JDRF, an organization that supports type 1 diabetes research.
During the meeting, advocates discussed the importance of robust funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and support for the Special Diabetes Program (SDP), which provides $150 million annually for type 1 diabetes research at NIH.
“I’m proud to represent such dedicated advocates, and to support critical programs like the SDP,” Engel said. “I was pleased to partner with 355 of my House colleagues from both sides of the aisle to call on Congressional leadership to maintain support for the Program, and I have long supported needed boosts to NIH funding. I will keep working to ensure that this critical research continues to bring needed cures to my constituents.”
“We are happy that Congressman Engel continues to support the SDP, which provides $150 million a year to the NIH for type 1 diabetes research,” said Rochelle Waldman, JDRF Board Member and Advocacy Team Chair for the Westchester/Fairfield/Hudson Valley Chapter. “For me personally, the research that the SDP allowed on the artificial pancreas is significant because my daughter is now using this device, which is making a difference in her life and the lives of so many others living with type 1 diabetes.”
Democrat declares candidacy with a bold, progressive message drawing sharp contrast with centrist Andrew Cuomo, whose administration has been mired in corruption
Actor, activist, and lifelong New Yorker Cynthia Nixon announced her campaign for governor of New York today, releasing a video in which she signals a challenge to business as usual in Albany and a vision of a New York that works for the many, not just the few.
“I love New York. I’ve never lived anywhere else,” says Nixon in the video, which shows Cynthia starting her day at home with her wife Christine and son Charlie, and walking her son Max to school. “But something has to change. We want our government to work again, on healthcare, ending mass incarceration, fixing our broken subway. We are sick of politicians who care more about headlines and power than they do about us. It can’t just be business as usual anymore.”
Cynthia’s candidacy gives Democrats a strong progressive alternative to the incumbent, Andrew Cuomo, a centrist and Albany insider. Cuomo’s time in office has been defined by a string of indictments for corruption, his failure to fix the New York City subway, and his support for a backroom deal which handed Republicans control of the state Senate, resulting in the failure of numerous pieces of progressive legislation.
For the last 17 years, Cynthia has been fighting for better schools and more equitable education funding all across the state, including as a spokesperson and organizer for the Alliance for Quality Education. An outspoken advocate for LGBTQ equality, Cynthia helped create Fight Back New York, an effort to remove state Senators opposed to marriage equality. The campaign ultimately raised $800,000 and helped elect three new votes to legalize same-sex marriage. Cynthia is also a longtime advocate for women’s reproductive rights, and has worked with Planned Parenthood in Albany to advocate for the full Women’s Equality Agenda.
Cynthia Nixon grew up in New York City, where she was raised by her single mother in a one bedroom, fifth-floor walk-up apartment. She began working as an actor when she was 12 years old to earn money to pay for her college education, and she was able to put herself through Barnard College at Columbia University.
Cynthia attended New York City public schools, and her three children are all New York City public school students or graduates. Unlike Andrew Cuomo, Cynthia rides the subway nearly every day, and understands the toll that his disastrous mismanagement of the MTA is taking on New Yorkers.
The bold, progressive tone of Cynthia’s announcement already stands in stark contrast to her opponent, Andrew Cuomo, who is seeking a third term. Over the past seven years of Cuomo’s tenure, New York has become the single most unequal state in the country, with power readily handed over to Republicans in Albany. Millionaires and billionaires have seen massive tax cut windfalls and handouts that loot the state budget, taking vital resources from New York’s children, seniors, and economically disadvantaged. Cynthia, on the other hand, is refusing to take a dime of corporate money.
In the coming weeks, Cynthia will travel across the state to hear from voters about how we can make New York state better, together.
Nixon would be the first woman elected to New York’s highest office, and its first LGBTQ governor as well. For more information about Cynthia Nixon and her historic campaign, visit www.CynthiaforNewYork.com.
Watch Cynthia’s announcement video at: https://youtu.be/SiOo4C2CiRQ
HEALINGNYC: MAYOR AND FIRST LADY ANNOUNCE $22 MILLION EXPANSION OF CITY’S PLAN TO COMBAT OPIOID EPIDEMIC
New investment will create peer intervention programs at more hospitals, increase naloxone distribution and connect more New Yorkers to treatment
Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray today announced a $22 million annual investment to expand HealingNYC, the citywide plan to combat the opioid epidemic. This new investment will create peer intervention programs at more hospitals across the City, increase naloxone distribution and training on how to use this lifesaving drug, and connect more New Yorkers struggling with substance misuse to treatment. With this new investment, the City will spend a total of $60 million annually to reduce opioid overdose deaths.
More New Yorkers died from drug overdose in 2016 than suicides, homicides and motor vehicle crashes combined. The City launched HealingNYC in March 2017 to reverse this surge in overdose deaths. While the 2017 opioid overdose data is still provisional, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is seeing a flattening in the overdose death rate compared to 2016. The City predicts that this expanded HealingNYC could help save as many as 400 lives by 2022.
“The opioid epidemic has destroyed lives and hurt families across the country. In New York City, we are harnessing every tool to stop this deadly surge in its track,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This new investment will help to save more lives and connect those struggling with addiction to treatment.”
“Addiction is a chronic disease, and people suffering from any disease need our help and support, not our judgment or punishment,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray, who leads the City’s mental health and substance misuse efforts. “Through ThriveNYC, we’re working hard to change the way people think about addiction and mental illness, establish prevention protocols, and create a culture of healing and wellness. With this expanded investment, we will open more doors to support for those who need it.”
“We are beginning to see some encouraging signs in the data regarding overdose deaths,” said Dr. Herminia Palacio, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services. “From 2016 to 2017, the number of opioid overdose deaths is flattening, rather than continuing to shoot upward. But we have much more work to do – and that’s why we’re announcing new investments to expand HealingNYC, so that we can serve more people in the emergency department and inpatient settings, equip more front-line City staff and community members with naloxone, and expand our crisis response tools – including deploying peers with lived experience - to serve people at risk of overdose.”
This new funding will start in Fiscal Year 2019 and be at full ramp up in Fiscal 2020.
With this additional $22 million annual investment, the City will implement the following strategies:
· Expand Emergency Department Peer-Based Interventions: New York City Health + Hospitals will expand its peer advocate program from three to all 11 of its emergency departments by the end of 2018. DOHMH will complete expansion of the Relay peer intervention program to 15 private hospitals by June 2020, up from the 10 sites currently slated for funding. With the expansion of these two programs, New Yorkers with an opioid use disorder will have access to peer support at the 26 hospitals that provide nearly 75% of all emergency services for overdose.
· Expand Inpatient Hospital Interventions at Health + Hospitals: NYC Health + Hospitals will expand plans for its Consult for Addiction Treatment and Care in Hospitals (CATCH) program from four to six sites, with four to be launched in Fall 2018 and the other two by the end of 2019. CATCH teams will connect inpatients admitted with substance abuse disorder to medically assisted treatment and outpatient care. The six sites will be NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue, /Lincoln, /Metropolitan, /Coney Island, /Elmhurst, and /Woodhull. These sites were chosen because their neighborhoods are some of the hardest hit by the opioid epidemic.
· Launch “Leave Behind” Naloxone Program: FDNY EMS will distribute 5,000 naloxone kits annually at homes they visit in response to an overdose call. The leave behind program will launch by the end of summer 2018.
· Establish End Overdose Training Institute: DOHMH will launch the End Overdose Training Institute by spring 2018 to teach 25,000 New Yorkers annually, including front line city workers, how to administer and distribute naloxone.
· Expand HOPE Program: The City will expand the HOPE program which diverts people arrested on low-level drug offenses into treatment rather than the criminal justice system. The City will fund peer workers in Staten Island, and launch a new HOPE program in the Bronx. This new investment will divert 1,400 people annually from the criminal justice system and connect them to medication-assisted treatment and other resources.
· Expand Crisis Response Services: The City will hire 29 additional staff to expand the capacity of the Health and Engagement Assessment Team, and Rapid Assesment Response Team which help to respond to overdose calls and connect New Yorkers to care. This additional staff will help to enhance the DOHMH and NYPD 24/7 Triage Desk to coordinate the City’s response to opioid overdoses.
“Healing NYC has been critical in addressing the opioid crisis and this expansion will go a long way in providing the medical and mental health supports necessary to help New Yorkers who use drugs and are at risk of overdosing," said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. "These new and expanded initiatives will provide New Yorkers in communities across the City with the support to prevent overdose and to engage them in the care and treatment that can prevent untimely death and promote recovery.”
"Thousands of times a year FDNY Paramedics, EMTs and Firefighters have utilized quick intervention with Naloxone to save patients suffering from drug overdoses," said Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro. "With this funding to expand HealingNYC, we know in the years to come that many more New Yorkers lives will be saved."
"The opioid epidemic is one of the most significant challenges facing health care today, especially for public health systems dedicated to caring for those most in need," said Mitchell Katz, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of NYC Health + Hospitals. "Our work to improve access to evidence-based treatments—in primary care, emergency department, and inpatient settings—focuses on linking thousands of additional New Yorkers to life-saving care."
"With the help of the Mayor’s HealingNYC initiative, NYC Health + Hospitals is not only building capacity to save lives at risk of opioid overdose, but also fostering a culture of compassion that will make us national leaders in caring for people with all substance use disorders," said Luke Bergmann, PhD, Assistant Vice President of the NYC Health + Hospitals Office of Behavioral Health.
The opioid crisis has had serious effects on families throughout New York City. Rates of drug overdose deaths in New York City more than doubled between 2010 and 2016, increasing from 8.2 per 100,000 residents in 2010 to 19.9 per 100,000 residents in 2016. DOHMH reports that while drug overdose deaths affect every neighborhood and demographic in New York City, residents of impoverished neighborhoods are the hardest hit.
Since HealingNYC was launched in March 2017, the City has distributed nearly 100,000 naloxone kits to opioid overdose prevention programs; expanded access to medications for addiction treatment; launched Relay, a new peer-based program in hospital emergency departments for people who experienced an overdose; trained more than 700 clinicians to prescribe buprenorphine; offered 1:1 education on judicious opioid prescribing to 1,000 doctors; and significantly increased community outreach and public education efforts.