Tag Archives: New York

Care Before Profit? Nurses Get Radical in Fight to Save Brooklyn Hospitals

Source: Sarah Jaffe, Talking Union blog, March 12, 2014

…In Brooklyn, James stressed, there are just two hospital beds per thousand people. Meanwhile, across the river in the borough of Manhattan, there are six beds per thousand people. And without the battle that unions and community members have been waging for over a year now, there might be even fewer, because Interfaith and Long Island College Hospital (LICH) would very likely be shuttered already.

The question when it comes to Interfaith, according to NYSNA organizer Eliza Carboni, is, “How do we get decisions about our healthcare needs out of bankruptcy court and into the hands of the community?” The hospital, which has been in bankruptcy court since 2012, has nearly closed several times—most recently this winter—before the state agreed to release some $25 million in funds to keep it open through March as bankruptcy proceedings continue. The crowd at the church hopes to see real changes in how healthcare decisions are made in a borough where most people get their primary care at the hospital, and where a large number of residents are reliant on Medicaid and Medicare to cover their treatment. They’re hoping that the state will step in to help keep it open. But NYSNA and 1199, together with community and elected leaders, are also exploring the idea of running the hospital as a cooperative—a move that if successful could have far-reaching implications in the healthcare sector.

A recent win for a community-labor coalition at LICH, which has kept the hospital open for the last year, suggests a blueprint for organizing at other cash-strapped hospitals. The unprecedented deal reached in court over LICH opens up a new request for proposals (RFP) to purchase the hospital and its property. Unlike previous iterations, the new RFP will prioritize proposals that keep a full-service hospital open, and the community and labor groups that filed suit to save the hospital will be represented on the committee that will evaluate the bids. While this doesn’t guarantee the hospital will remain open, it represents a huge shift in priorities—nurses and elected officials had previously felt that the State University of New York (SUNY), which currently operates the hospital, simply wanted to sell off the valuable real estate to the highest bidder, regardless of healthcare need….

It’s Caregivers vs. Privatizers in New York and New Jersey Hospital Wars
Source: Alexandra Bradbury, Labor Notes, July 25, 2013

News websites began reporting the hospital dead July 19. Management at Brooklyn’s Long Island College Hospital (LICH) owned up to a secret plan to ship out all remaining patients over the next two days and lay off all staff in 30 days…. When administrators tried to remove patients the next day anyway, workers called the cops on them. It was one of several dramatic turnabouts in an ongoing war over the future of Brooklyn’s hospitals….

…LICH sits on prime real estate in a gentrifying part of Brooklyn. That’s why its owner, the State University of New York (SUNY), wants to close it down, workers charge. To developers—who’d like to put condos there—the hospital would be worth more dead than alive…. Other Brooklyn hospitals have teetered on the brink, too. SUNY Downstate Medical Center—technically LICH’s immediate owner—is threatening drastic cuts and privatization, and another coalition of unions and community members is fighting there….

…Hospital supporters want to find a new operator to take over LICH and keep it open—but the right kind of operator. They rallied in June against state legislators’ efforts to allow private investors to take over certain hospitals. It’s not currently legal for for-profit companies to own hospitals in New York. One bill would have created five pilot programs for private equity to invest in New York hospitals. Another would have opened the door to for-profit ownership of Brooklyn hospitals specifically. Neither bill passed this session….

…New York state has so far kept for-profit health care out, but across the Hudson River in New Jersey, it has a toehold—eight hospitals—and members of the Health Professionals and Allied Employees, a Teachers (AFT) affiliate, are fighting to block the profit-mongers from ballooning any further…. California-based Prime Healthcare Services is poised to buy up five more New Jersey hospitals….At Meadowlands Hospital, union members are in a big fight with the owner, a shadowy group of for-profit investors called MHA. A June Labor Board complaint charged Meadowlands with unilaterally cutting union members’ health and retirement benefits, surveilling union activity by video—and hiring 200 non-union nurses at minimum wage as “nurse interns,” in an effort to circumvent the contract….

Social Impact Bonds: Overview and Consideration

Source: Elizabeth Lower-Basch, Center on Law and Social Policy (CLASP), March 7, 2014

One of the hottest topics in human services is “pay-for-success” approaches to government contracting. In this era of tight budgets and increased skepticism about the effectiveness of government-funded programs, the idea that the government could pay only for proven results has a broad appeal. And those who have identified prevention-focused models that have the potential to improve long-term outcomes and save the government money are deeply frustrated that they have been unable to attract the funding needed to take these programs to scale. Some advocate s for expanded prevention efforts are confident that these programs could thrive under pay for success and see such an approach as a way to break out of the harmful cycle where what limited funds are available must be used to provide services for those who are already in crisis, and there are rarely sufficient funds to pay for prevention. While performance-based contracting has existed for years in a range of human services areas — including job training and placement, welfare-to-work activities, and child welfare — pay for success, and in particular, the version referred to as a “social impact bond” (SIB) has drawn a great deal of attention at all levels of government in recent years. … While only a couple of SIBs are currently underway in the United States, at least 14 states are currently at various stages of exploring SIBs in domains including criminal justice, health care, and early childhood education. …. Because of this high level of interest, many policymakers, practitioners, funders and advocates may need to respond to the question of whether a SIB would be a good way to expand funding for a particular intervention or population in a given state or community. This paper provides background information and a framework to help answer this question. It is based on CLASP’s review of the literature on SIBs, as well as on our extensive knowledge of the literature and experience with performance measurement systems, performance-based contracting, and strategies to link public policy and implementation with research evidence for programs serving low-income and other disadvantaged population. ….

Merged school district would require new employee contracts

Source: Susan Mende, Johnson Newspapers, March 26, 2014

Consolidating Canton and Potsdam school districts would require negotiating new contracts for teachers, administrators and other staff members employed by the merged district. The process would involve finding common ground in areas such as health insurance contributions, stipends and salary distribution, said Roger D. Gorham, a consultant from Western Educational Council, Buffalo. …

Riders call for Nassau to chip in for NICE bus service

Source: News12, March 24, 2014

Bus riders and advocates are calling for Nassau County to contribute more to the county’s privatized NICE bus system to improve services. Before 2012, the county contributed $10 million per year to the MTA to run the public buses. Now, Nassau contributes $2.5 million to Veolia, the company that operates NICE.

Our Views: Privatized bus service found lacking
Source: The Island Now, January 23, 2014

One of the major improvements promised by Veolia, the private company that now operates Nassau Inter-County Express bus system, is that riders will be able to track the buses with the GPS on their smart phones. … That service will be implemented sometime in 2015. But it will mean little if an overcrowded bus passes them by or if the rider is forced to stand in a crowded bus on a regular basis. A survey taken by the French research firm Ipsos (there’s no Long Island firm that could have taken this survey?) shows that riders don’t think the service by NICE, the private operator that took over for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is, in fact, very nice. In one year the percentage of customers who said they were satisfied with the bus service dropped in 12 months, from 52 percent to 29 percent. …

Long Island Bus To Privatize
Source: Jim O’Grady, Transportation Nation, 11/11/2011

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano held a press conference in a Garden City bus garage to announce that Veolia Transportation, a private company, will assume operations of Long Island Bus from the NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority on January 1….

…On that day, the bus service’s name will be changed to “NICE,” an acronym for Nassau Inter-County Express. The buses will also sport a new orangey look (see photo above).

Mangano says the move will reduce Nassau’s yearly subsidy to the service from $9 million, which it was paying to the NY MTA, to $2.26 million. He said Veolia would keep fares the same in 2012, which is not a savings for riders because the NY MTA wasn’t planning on raising them. If Veolia wanted to raise fares after that, Mangano said the company would need approval from a new 5-member Bus Transit Committee made up of Nassau County residents.

Veolia would keep the line’s 48 routes, at least to start. But Mangano said efficiency of service might mean “consolidating” routes in the future….Bowden said she expects privatization to thin the ranks of the 981-member workforce and that workers will face cuts in benefits.
Bum’s rush to privatize Long Island Bus takes the ‘public’ out of transportation
Source: Karen Rubin, Long Island Populist Examiner, December 6, 2011
Privatizing of LI buses shows flaws in system
Source: Lisa Colagrossi, WABC, December 08, 2011
Nassau’s Private Bus Company to Cut Service
Source: Janet Babin, Transportation Nation, 03/02/2012

Juror Loses Job for Serving in Terror Trial

Source: Benjamin Weiser, New York Times, March 7, 2014

To be chosen as one of the jurors in the terrorism trial of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, a son-in-law of Osama Bin Laden, would understandably cause some unease. But for one woman, serving on the jury has brought about some unexpected tension: the loss of her job. On Friday, the woman, Juror 21, called the judge’s chambers and said her employer had claimed to have figured out which case she was on and told her she would be paid for only three days. Then, the woman said, she was told she was being demoted — and then she was laid off. ….

…After getting her call, the judge, Lewis A. Kaplan of Federal District Court in Manhattan, held a telephone conference on Friday to alert Mr. Abu Ghaith’s lawyer and prosecutors to the situation. The judge said that a federal statute makes it unlawful for an employer to discharge, intimidate or coerce a permanent employee in connection with jury service, and such action could make an employer liable for damages and other civil penalties, a transcript of the phone conference showed…. Juror 21 is a single mother of three children and in her late 30s; she said she worked as an accountant for “a major school bus company.”….

Audit: Samaritan Village, Inc.: Chemical Dependency Services Program

Source: New York State, Office of the State Comptroller, Report 2011-S-38, February 2014

From the press release:
Samaritan Village Inc., a contractor of substance abuse treatment for the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), was paid nearly $1 million in inappropriate and questionable expenses over a one-year period, according to an audit released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The questionable expenses included more than $400,000 given to clients to spend on day trips and transportation. … Samaritan Village provides residential, outpatient and methadone treatment services in the New York City area. Under a five-year $73.3 million contract, OASAS reimburses Samaritan Village for the net costs it incurs to provide the services, up to the contract amount. If Samaritan receives any program-related, non-contract revenues from food stamps, client services and Medicaid for individuals served, it is required to reduce, or offset, expenses by those amounts. …

Pitfalls Seen in a Turn to Privately Run Long-Term Care

Source: Nina Bernstein, New York Times, March 6, 2014

Even as public attention is focused on the Affordable Care Act, another health care overhaul is underway in many states: an ambitious effort to restrain the ballooning Medicaid cost of long-term care as people live longer and survive more disabling conditions. At least 26 states, including California, Florida, Illinois and New York, are rolling out mandatory programs that put billions of public dollars into privately managed long-term care plans, in hopes of keeping people in their homes longer, and expanding alternatives to nursing homes. …. In many cases, care was denied after needs grew costlier — including care that people would have received under the old system.

Sold! Legislators Approve Sale Of County Home To VestraCare For $16 Million

Source: Katie Atkins, The Post-Journal, February 27, 2014

The potential privatization of the Chautauqua County Home is no longer potential – it’s reality. After three failed votes and months of debate, the fourth vote on the sale of the nursing home to VestraCare at a price of $16 million was approved Wednesday in Mayville. Emotions ran high as representatives of the nursing home, the CSEA union and Todd Tranum, president of the county Chamber of Commerce, spoke out about what legislators should and shouldn’t do.
Letter: CSEA is trying for county talks
Source: Steve Skidmore is the CSEA Chautauqua County unit president, The Observer, February 23, 2014

The Feb. 10 editorial “County Home: Union fails with workers” is full of inaccuracies and untruths. It’s merely another attempt by this paper to make CSEA look like the bad guy.

CSEA has issued several news releases in the last few years detailing proposals we have made to the county. Those proposals would have saved the county more than $1.7 million in the first couple years alone. By now, had the changes not been rejected by the county, the savings would likely have been substantially greater.

On the issue of the nursing home, this paper has also received numerous press releases from CSEA expressing the union’s desire to go to the bargaining table with the county with the purpose of negotiating separate terms and conditions of employment for nursing home workers. Each time, our request has fallen on deaf ears.

At the negotiating table not in the pages of this paper is where any cost-saving measures would be discussed and where any tentative agreement would be fashioned. For well more than a year CSEA has been ready, willing and able, to discuss a series of cost saving proposals. We made that clear first to Greg Edwards and now to Vince Horrigan. Until the county is willing to come to the table to discuss our proposals, no progress can be made. ….

Opinion: Sale To VestraCare Is Good For County Home
Source: Post-Journal, February 9, 2014

Chautauqua County Home employees have spent years doing exemplary work in an oft-thankless job. It is quite understandable, then, that continued proposals to sell the Chautauqua County Home can feel like a slap in the face. It’s difficult for them to see such fundamental changes to an organization in which someone has invested their blood, sweat and tears. Their work and sacrifices should be kept in mind as Chautauqua County legislators review a second offer from VestraCare to purchase the home. At the same time, County Home employees and their supporters must also realize the home is failing in spite of their best efforts, not because of them….

Opinion: County Home: Union fails with workers
Source: Observer, February 10, 2014

In a bold move, 171 workers of the Chautauqua County Home have publicly announced through a petition they are willing to accept concessions on wages and benefits….

CSEA, Horrigan Meet Over County Home
Source: Katie Atkins, Post-Journal, February 4, 2014

With Chautauqua County under new leadership, the CSEA union is continuing its efforts to negotiate for County Home employees prior to the County Legislature’s scheduled meeting with potential purchaser VestraCare, set to take place Wednesday in Mayville. Representatives of the union met with County Executive Vince Horrigan recently to discuss issues relevant to the nursing home’s workforce. Steve Skidmore, CSEA Chautauqua County unit president, said he was encouraged by a sense of teamwork stressed by Horrigan.
Helwig to resign as director of Chautauqua nursing home
Source: Susan Chiappone, Chautauqua Correspondent, January 24, 2014

Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan announced Friday that Tim Helwig, administrator of the Chautauqua County Home, will resign effective next month.

The action comes just weeks before the Chautauqua County Legislature scheduled a special meeting with VestraCare, a buyer who is interested in the home. Sale of the county run skilled nursing facility in Dunkirk has been the topic of many meetings in the past two years. On Oct. 30, a single vote was needed to confirm the sale of the home to VestraCare. Since the vote, the makeup of the Legislature has changed. The body was downsized from 25 to 19 members. Republicans gained a majority with 13 of the seats….

Editorial: County Home: Sink Or Swim
Source: Post-Journal, November 5, 2013

…Now that legislators have once again decided not to sell the home there is the possibility of those same legislators asking for another round of IGT funding for the home. It is disingenuous for lawmakers to vote against selling the home and then ask for more county money to keep the home afloat….

Positions remain unchanged regarding County Home sale
Source: Liz Skoczylas, Observer, October 13, 2013

There appears to be little change in the numbers of legislators planning to vote for or against the potential sale of the Chautauqua County Home.

Legislators will once again be called upon to decide whether to sell the county-owned skilled nursing facility, with a vote taking place Oct. 30. The legislative body recently heard from members of the potential purchasing group VestraCare, for a question and answer session.

In a straw poll conducted by the OBSERVER, 15 of the 19 legislators who responded answered they would be willing to sell the County Home to VestraCare. Three indicated they would not sell the home, and one indicated there had not been adequate time allowed to research VestraCare and had no answer at the time of the poll….

No questions, few answers
Source: Liz Skoczylas, Observer, August 29, 2013

The latest group expressing interest in purchasing the Chautauqua County Home was introduced to the legislature – but not allowed to answer questions. Martin and Edward Farben-blum and Shannon Cayea of VestraCare made an 11-minute presentation to the county legislature Wednesday. However, per Chairman Jay Gould, R-Ashville, the group did not take questions during public session….

Opinion: Still no union proposal for the County Home
Source: Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News, August 29, 2013

Chautauqua County ponders $16.5M deal for nursing home
Source: Tracey Drury, Buffalo Business First, August 16, 2013

Chautauqua County legislators will consider a deal next week to sell the county nursing home to a downstate-based investment group for $16.5 million…. The prospective buyer is Richard Platschek, part of an investment group that will purchase the 30-acre Temple Road property through 10836 Temple Realty LLC, with the facility to be operated by Chautauqua Restorative and Nursing Center LLC. Platschek is also part of an investment group that has been working for the past year to take over operations at three nursing homes owned by the Zacher family and Legacy Health Care: Williamsville Suburban, Sheridan Manor and Ridge View Manor….

Home Security / Vote To Sell County Home Fails By One Vote, 16-9; Legislature To Continue With Marketing
Source: Liz Skoczylas, Post-Journal, January 24, 2013

The Chautauqua County Nursing Home is still in the county’s hands. Legislators voted Wednesday night not to sell the home, which County Executive Greg Edwards said loses $9,000 per day, to potential purchaser William (Avi) Rothner of Altitude Health Services. Although 16 legislators voted to sell the home to Rothner, it was not enough for the supermajority vote.

Benefits at heart of County Home jobs issue
Source: Daniel Flatley, Watertown Daily Times, November 20, 2012

Benefits are at the heart of the Jefferson County Home for the Aged jobs issue. The home has 15 full-time employees, all of whom will be out of work when it closes early next year. Though some employees may be able to find work in new positions at Samaritan Summit Village, they no longer will receive benefits from the county, which is of particular concern to those nearing retirement age.

Line In The Sand / Two Choices Outlined For Lawmakers On County Home
Source: Eric Tichy, Post-Journal, August 22, 2012

County home’s future / Legislature meets today to discuss full report
Source: Eric Tichy, Observer, August 21, 2012

For the second time in as many months, county lawmakers will convene a special meeting regarding the future of the Chautauqua County Home…. The special meeting takes place a month after the marketing firm Marcus and Millichap announced two qualified offers on the County Home have been received. The offers are from Absolut Care Facilities Management, LLC and by Altitude Health Services Inc. Absolut Care, which operates two nursing facilities in Chautauqua County, submitted an offer of $1.6 million a year with a purchase option of $16 million. Altitude Health, located near Chicago, offered $16.5 million in cash for the County Home….

‘Attacked’ filmmakers respond
Source: Roy and Karen Harvey, Observer, April 8, 2012

County Home study mulled
Source: Nicholas L. Dean, Observer, January 24, 2012

County lawmakers will consider a proposal Wednesday to contract for an unbiased study of the County Home. … Talk about potentially selling or altering operations at the County Home came to a head in recent months when lawmakers were asked to approve the selection of Marcus & Millichap – a consulting firm retained to market the County Home. In response, CSEA officials had questioned how the legislature could move forward with marketing the facility when it had never had an unbiased assessment completed.

State Education Department – Extended School Day Program

Source: State of New York, Office of the State Comptroller, 2012-0052, February 25, 2014

From the press release:
The SCO Family of Services (SCO), a provider of extended school day programs for the State Education Department (SED), submitted $194,320 in reimbursement claims for expenses that were unnecessary, not allowable or unrelated to its programs, according to an audit released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. …

SCO has two contracts worth $2.7 million to provide extended school day services for the SED. SCO provides academic, arts and music activities during non-school hours to children who attend high-poverty, low-performing schools.

The SFY 2014-15 executive budget proposes a $500,000 grant to SCO to expand its five-day-a-week School Age Child Care/Afterschool Program.

DiNapoli’s auditors, however, found that more than 30 percent of SCO’s prior reimbursements were misspent on inappropriate costs, including:

$90,348 to pay staff who worked when the program was not operating;
$29,360 for three instructors not assigned to the grant;
$11,188 for the SCO educational coordinator who did not work for the extended day program;
$3,173 for an adult aerobics class; and
$2,670 for disc jockey services. ….

Department of Health – American Academy of Pediatrics, District II

Source: State of New York, Office of the State Comptroller, 2014-STAT-01A, February 28, 2014

From the press release:
State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman today announced the arrest of Department of Health (DOH) contractor George Dunkel for stealing more than $87,000 by padding bills to pay for hotels, education credits and other expenses. DiNapoli also announced he is rejecting a $133,860 extension of a related contract due to the criminal probe. … Dunkel, 45, of Latham, who is executive director of the American Academy of Pediatrics, District II (AAP-II), was charged in Albany City Court with grand larceny and several counts of offering a false instrument for filing. If convicted, the maximum penalty is up to 15 years in prison. The investigation continues. The joint investigation by the State Comptroller DiNapoli and Attorney General Schneiderman revealed that Dunkel inflated AAP-II’s expenses by more than $87,000 while under contract with DOH to develop and provide training and education on childhood immunization issues. The falsified vouchers sought payment for hotel stays, employee fringe benefits and continuing medical education (CME) credits. …