The Legal Aid Society and Advocates for Senior Citizens and Persons With Disabilities Demand Withdrawal of Lawsuit Against the City Charging Fraud
TUESDAY, JANUARY 18, 2011

The Legal Aid Society, disability rights advocates, and community organizations representing senior citizens and persons with disabilities have sent a letter to US Attorney Preet Bharara for the Southern District of New York demanding the withdrawal of a lawsuit against the City charging Medicaid fraud through personal care services.

In a letter, the groups said the lawsuit defies the Americans with Disabilities Act requiring states to provide services in the most integrated setting — mainly their homes in the community — rather than in institutions. “New York City should be commended — not penalized — for its successful efforts to further this federal goal,” said the letter, which had been signed by representatives of more than 200 disability-rights, legal and community organizations.


The New York Times
January 14, 2011
Groups Demand Withdrawal of Medicaid Fraud Lawsuit
By Anemona Hartocollis

The Legal Aid Society and scores of other organizations representing the elderly and disabled banded together on Friday to demand that the United States attorney in Manhattan withdraw a lawsuit charging New York City with Medicaid fraud through its personal care program.

In a strongly worded letter to Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, the advocates said that the lawsuit directly conflicted with federal policy and with a Supreme Court decision requiring states to try to keep those with disabilities in their homes rather than sending them to institutions.

The letter contended that the lawsuit would have a chilling effect on city government’s willingness to authorize personal care in the home to people “who desperately need it.”

“New York City should be commended — not penalized — for its successful efforts to further this federal goal,” said the letter, which had been signed by representatives of more than 200 disability-rights, legal and community organizations.

The letter was a response to a civil fraud complaint filed on Tuesday, in which Mr. Bharara charged that the city’s Human Resources Administration had overbilled the federal Medicaid program tens of millions of dollars by improperly approving 24-hour home care for thousands of patients.

In some cases, the complaint said, patients were receiving too little care and needed to be institutionalized; in other cases, they were receiving too much. The complaint insinuated that city officials made treatment decisions about personal care to shift the costs of caring for elderly people, many with dementia, to the state and federal government.

Ellen Davis, a spokeswoman for the United States attorney’s office for the Southern District in New York, said on Friday, “We are and always have been committed to aggressive enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act,” which the letter accused the government of defying. Also on Friday, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg disputed the lawsuit’s contention that New York City had “unjustly enriched” itself by manipulating the personal care program. “We don’t receive one cent from this practice,” Mr. Bloomberg said on his radio show. “It’s done by service organizations. They’re paid directly by the state.”

The state’s Medicaid spending is the highest in the country, at more than twice the national average for its population.