Brooklyn Lawmakers on the Move Dec. 22, 2020

News Site Brooklyn

James Secures $6 Million Over False Medicaid Billing 

Attorney General of NY Letitia James
New York Attorney General Letitia James

New York Attorney General Letitia James yesterday announced an agreement with A.R.E.B.A.-CASRIEL, Inc. d/b/a/ Addiction Care Interventions Chemical Dependency Treatment (ACI) and its majority owner, Steven Yohay, regarding multiple schemes that defrauded the state Medicaid program, as part of a joint state-federal investigation. 

Filed this past Friday in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, ACI and Yohay admitted that they failed to respond to reports of wrongdoing — which the investigation substantiated — that ACI engaged in multiple illegal schemes, including that its employees bribed people experiencing homelessness into getting inpatient treatment there. 

“Exploiting individuals who are experiencing homelessness is disgraceful,” said James. “My office will use its power to seek out Medicaid providers looking to defraud the Medicaid system and New York state taxpayers. I will not stand idly by while those funds get misused by bad actors who wish to wrongfully collect funds that will be so desperately needed elsewhere.”

ACI admitted to many instances of deceitful and fraudulent behavior, such as: paying an individual for a “no-show” job at ACI, while that person worked as a full-time employee at another organization with the same function as ACI; encouraging “outreach” drivers who regularly bribed potential Medicaid patients into seeking inpatient treatment at ACI, many of whom were experiencing homelessness at the time; and allowing Medicaid patients to enroll in its inpatient treatment program despite not being evaluated by a qualified health care professional, a violation of New York enrollment practices.

Gillibrand & Jeffries Weigh-in On Relief Package

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn, Queens) released the following statement following the passage of a $900 billion coronavirus relief package and omnibus. 

“While I am disappointed that Senator McConnell continues to oppose funding for state and local governments, I voted for the $900 billion aid package and omnibus in order to get urgent relief to New York families. This bill has many important provisions that will help families and small businesses, including enhanced unemployment benefits, direct payments, small business aid, SNAP benefits, and funding for vaccine distribution, hospitals and schools. More aid will be needed to help families make it through this crisis and I will be working hard with the incoming Biden administration to deliver it,” said Gillibrand.  

“We are facing a once-in-a-century pandemic that requires a once-in-a-century congressional response. To be sure, this legislation is only a first step toward the meaningful, science-based recovery that we will commence within the first 100 days of the Biden-Harris administration. The groundwork laid tonight represents a meaningful down payment as House Democrats continue to work to crush the virus and deliver economic relief for everyday Americans,” said Jeffries.

“With nearly 1 in 8 Americans going without enough to eat, millions more at risk of eviction and transportation systems struggling to stay open, we are especially proud of Speaker Pelosi’s robust negotiations, which included $13 billion in SNAP and child nutrition benefits, $25 billion for rental assistance, an extension to the eviction moratorium, direct payments for everyday Americans and $14 billion for mass transit. We are also thankful to each Member of the House Democratic Caucus for ensuring that no one, regardless of race, regardless of ethnicity, regardless of region, regardless of zip code, is left behind.

“House Democrats know that our work is not over until those affected the most have all the assistance they need to make it through this pandemic. Without question, this is not the end, but the beginning,” said Jeffries. 

Adams Lays Out Plan for Universal Internet Access  

Borough President Eric Adams
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and City Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) announced yesterday the release of a new white paper titled “Bridging the Digital Divide for Every New Yorker with a Universal Internet Guarantee.” 

The report notes how reliable high-speed Internet connection has become a basic need for every New Yorker, whether for remote learning, working from home, virtual socializing, and more. This need has become especially acute amid a deadly pandemic that has placed severe limitations on people’s ability to safely gather in-person. 

 “The coronavirus pandemic has shown all of us the importance of a reliable high-speed home Internet connection, whether for remote learning and working from home or for gathering virtually with loved ones. With many households in Black and Brown communities lacking high-speed Internet, the shift to social distancing has been particularly challenging and has exacerbated long-standing inequities. As we prepare for a second wave, or for the next virus, we must rebuild our society with the guarantee of universal broadband — finally treating the Internet as a utility like phone service or electricity. We must use all of New York City’s local regulatory power to deliver on the promise of universal broadband by establishing a Universal Internet Guarantee,” wrote Adams and Kallos.