Cuomo’s dysfunctional Department of Health remains unchecked

An attorney for New York State’s records access office says the state’s Department of Health does not maintain records identifying how many New York State Medicaid recipients with brain injuries are placed out of state. A shocking admission given the DOH has spent roughly 1.5 billion of the state’s Medicaid dollars on New Yorkers placed out of state from 2003 to 2013.

In a March 21 letter responding to a FOIL (Freedom of Information ) request filed by this writer asking, in part, how many New York State Medicaid recipients with brain injury disabilities are currently placed out of state, Elizabeth Sullivan, an attorney for the state’s records access office,  says “the department [of health] does not maintain Medicaid data for those diagnosed with (brain injuries) as no such coding exists exclusively for these diagnoses.”

Just when you think it impossible for the state’s DOH to appear even more dysfunctional – and disingenuous – the DOH proves you wrong. There is ample evidence of disingenuousness when it comes to the DOH. One example would be a sentence in Ms. Sullivan’s letter to me: “Upon further review of your conversations with Mr. (John) Harper (of the state’s Office of Health Insurance Programs) this office has determined the following enclosed tables are responsive to your request.”  Kudos to Ms. Sullivan for a well-written sentence. One minor problem with its content; I never had conversations with Mr. Harper. As for the tables she references. They list the numbers of New York residents on Medicaid placed out of state but whether they have brain injuries or not is anyone’s guess.

Another example of the DOH’s disingenuousness is its public assertion that it cares about New Yorkers who live with brain injuries yet when those who are stakeholders seek to work with the DOH to improve the lives of NYers with BID, the DOH gives them the straight arm. The DOH recently took part in a phone conference with representatives from  the Brain Injury Association of NY State, the Center for Disability Rights, Disability Rights NY (the state’s protection and advocacy agency), the Traumatic Brain Injury Services Coordination Council (TBISCC) and the state’s Justice Center. It didn’t matter that the DOH had the agenda for a week, nor did it matter the agenda asked the DOH to clearly identify the number  of New Yorkers with BID placed out of state, and, clearly identify what support family members of those placed out of state could count on from the DOH. DOH representatives on the call provided none of the information sought. The DOH would not commit to a follow-up meeting with the stakeholders.

There is an effort underway to create an independent office for brain injury in the state. Good idea. But the current effort asks that the office remain in the control of the DOH. The very notion of the office being under the control of the DOH is a betrayal of New Yorkers with BID and their families. In truth, the office would be well-situated in a non-state agency, a non-profit that knows the plight of those who live with disabilities: CDR (Center for Disability Rights) would, at this point, be this writer’s choice. In fact, if the Cuomo administration wants to prove their claim of caring about individuals with BID is more than lip service (as well as his voiced commitment to ethics reform), then it should recognize that both the TBI and Nursing Home waivers  would be well-served under CDR’s leadership.

Over the past few years this blog has more than once memorialized the truly sickening mess that is the DOH. Examples abound: for 15 years plus  if you were a participant in the state’s Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Waiver and filed a complaint, the DOH never informed you of the results of your complaint. For 15 years the DOH’s most powerful person, when it came to the TBI Waiver, was Timothy J. Feeney, who then and now misrepresented his educational credentials, telling all the world he had a PhD and a Masters Degree when, in truth, both documents were issued by a now defunct diploma mill off the coast of Australia and were not and are not recognized as valid anywhere on planet earth.

Then, of course, you have the saga of Maribeth “Knuckles” Gnozzio. Knuckles, who wields enormous power on both the TBI Waiver and the Nursing Home and Transitions Waiver fronts, appears to have escaped federal prosecution thanks to a deal cut by her husband, Robert Janiszewski, who was convicted in 2002 of extortion and tax evasion by federal prosecutors. As this blog pointed out in January, Cuomo’s stated commitment to ethics reform is nothing more than smoke and mirrors if Gnozzio remains in place.  Reform “doesn’t seem to be on Knuckles Gnozzio’s mind. In 2010 she was the one who issued the verbal directive blocking waiver staff from advocating for waiver participants at Medicaid Fair Hearings, a move that has undermined the ability of many to truly represent themselves, which was Knuckles plan? Was it Cuomo’s plan as well? Or did he simply not know what his DOH was doing. He has known for some time now, and still not change. It was also Knuckles Gnozzio that directed that the housing subsidy this writer was receiving when he was on the TBI Waiver be taken away and it was Knuckle’s Gnozzio who led the effort to deny this writer a request for white noise machines secondary to sound sensitivity related to my brain injury. Gnozzio needs to go and, if Cuomo is telling the truth about his commitment to ethics reform, she will. If he isn’t, she won’t.”

It seems to me that the best thing that could happen for New Yorkers, in and out of state, who live with BID, is for the DOH to be removed from the equation altogether.

Posted in BIANYS, cuomo, cuomo and ethics, gnozzio, jani, Janiszewski, TBI, TBI Waiver, tbiscc | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I’m a chick magnet with amnesia

Thank God for the internet. To be more precise, thank God for email.  I say this because were it not for email I wouldn’t have found out how many women miss me. Not only do they miss me, they love me.  And wait, it gets better. Not only do the love me, they want to have sex with me, the sooner the better. So many women have reached out to me lately I don’t even know what to say. Well, let me be honest with you, there is a serious problem and the problem is mine. My memory is failing. In fact, when it comes to these women, I think it’s gone. I can’t remember any of them!

Last week I got an email from Svetlana, a Russian woman who has a real hankering to spend time with me because she misses me. Hi Peterkahrmann, remember me? I remember you, how beeutiful you are. We were together remember? I rite you beefor. I am your 23 old beautey. Please write soon we can hook up…  Wow! Okay, clearly she’s not a linguist but oh boy she sounds salacious. I didn’t write back because I don’t remember who the hell she is. 

Then there’s Adelita. I get an email from her every week (if not more). She is persistent and misses me and tells me we know each other in our souls and she is Hot and smexy for me. I am your Mexican mamacita! Te deseo! Te deseo! Te deseo! I can’t remember her either!

Let me tell you, this amnesia business is losing me a lot of intimate moments. I’ve got a call into my doctor to see if there’s anything that can be done about my failing memory.  I am somewhat baffled about the fact they’re all in their twenties. I’m 60 and I’ve got to tell you, I can’t remember being in a relationship in which I was 35 to 40 years older than the woman. But I’m willing to make an effort and try to remember.

Last month, for some reason, women who know me and miss me and love me wrote me emails because they know how  kind and generous I am. These poor women have all fallen on hard times – at the same time!  For some reason beyond my understanding all their emails begin with, Hello dear… Their memories are clearly better than mine: it seems I am wealthy. I completely forgot. So completely, I still can’t remember my wealth, all my money.  I can’t even remember where I put it! I’m depressed.

Bad memory aside, I must say I was truly moved by one email last month. Hello dear, (Always with the hello dear) I send you blessings dear man of kindness. In too weks (Another linguist.) I will inheirt many dollars from my dear uncle. can you dear one send me money now? I send you account for receibing. Bless you dear one, God loves you I love you. Blessings always dear one.  Not long after reading her email I was overcome with a wave of sadness. I realized she didn’t sign her name because her memory is worse than mine. Poor thing can’t remember her name.

Oh well. I suppose as long as I can remember my name I’m on the upside of things. I still feel pretty bad that I can’t remember all these women. Being forgotten can’t be any fun.


Posted in amnesia, chick magnet, sexy emails | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

A matter of allegiance

There is little I value more in someone than kindness. Few things move me more than witnessing or learning about real acts of kindness.

Kind is defined in Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary as “having or showing a gentle nature and a desire to help others : wanting and liking to do good things and to bring happiness to others.” The definition is incomplete. Kind is also having or showing a gentle nature and a desire to help yourself by being kind to yourself; wanting and liking to do good things and bring happiness to your life as well as to the lives of others.

I was in the sauna  at my local YMCA recently when I heard a conversation going on just outside the door. One person was offering a helpful suggestion to another person who’d been dealing with a painful condition for some time. Hearing the kindness and compassion in the voice of the one offering support coupled with the heartfelt emotional tones of appreciation in the voice of the one receiving the support brought me to tears. There are many things I love about life, moments like these are among my favorites.

Like you, I’ve witnessed acts of kindness and cruelty. Never too much of the former, always too much of the latter. As a writer I instinctively pay close attention to the world I live in. One component of that world is the interaction between people, their patterns of thought and emotion, the multitude of ways in which they interact with and treat each other, as well as the ways in which they interact with and treat themselves. It is not possible to have a healthy relationship with life absent a healthy relationship with self.  It is not possible to have a healthy relationship with self without an allegiance to honesty.

Now, if I told you I’ve always had a healthy relationship with my life my nose would respond with a vigorous Pinocchio response and make a sizeable hole in the monitor’s screen. So, I won’t lie to you. I won’t lie to you because, one, I am committed to living an honest life, and, two, I’m rather fond of my monitor.

It would be understandable if you’re wondering how an essay that starts off talking about kindness has somehow meandered its way to honesty and dishonesty. It’s done so because I believe when dishonesty is one of life’s underpinnings, acts of kindness are often self-serving, designed to make an impression or illicit a particular response. There are times apparent acts of kindness are rooted in unhealthy antecedents which, by their nature, are destructive. To the person offering the “kindness” and to the person receiving it.

This brings me back to allegiance. Is it healthy or misplaced? That’s the question.  For years dishonesty was an underpinning of my life because my allegiance was to alcohol and drugs. In short, to addiction. When anyone is caught in the addiction web – a web that can include addiction to food, work, sex, shopping, etc. – life becomes about protecting the addiction rather than protecting the life. A lifestyle like this leaves nothing  in its wake but carnage.  A carnage that includes the destruction of relationships, friendships, families, children, jobs, careers, education, hopes, dreams, and, life. I could name many – some of whom I loved and love still – who are dead because of  addiction. I know some today who will no doubt add to these numbers unless they shift allegiance from addiction to self.

Stepping out from behind the dishonesty mask is a scary. It is also the first step in reclaiming – or for the first time claiming – the right to one’s self. For me, the thought of reaching the end of my life still entrenched in the addiction web and hidden behind the dishonesty mask was far scarier – it also made me blisteringly angry. First, I would die without ever  fully living life as myself, and, second, those that wounded me would’ve had control of my choices right up to the moment of my death.  They don’t deserve that kind of power.

And then there is this: I know no kindness greater than saving a life, including one’s own. As I said, there is little I value more in someone than kindness and few things move me more than witnessing or learning about real acts of kindness, including those that are self-inflicted.

Posted in acts of kindness, addicition and recovery, addiction, dishonesty, honesty, kind, kindness, kindness and compassion | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Because you’re gone

I’m sorry I could not save you

I swear I would have if I could have

I’ve heard no sound so bruising as silence

Because you’re gone


I’m sorry you could not save you

I wonder if you would have if you could have

The sunrise seems smaller these days

Because you’re gone


I’m sorry you couldn’t trust anyone

Would you’ve trusted you if you could have

I don’t think you stood a chance

Because you’re gone


I’m sorry these words can’t reach you

They would have if they could have

You could hear but you couldn’t listen

Because you’re gone.


I’m sorry I could not save you

I swear I would have if I could have

There’s less light in my heart now

Because you’re gone


Posted in bad dreams, loss of a loved one, surviving, surviving trauma, trust | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Health scares

Health scares are wake-up calls, one would think. They are for me.  Blood test results I received today tell me my cholesterol is too high, much higher than it was a few years back. It’s 238 and was 205. The LDL was 159, it’s now 173.

Now, I read where one doctor wrote, “The American Heart Association recommends that your total cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dL, but what they do not tell you is that total cholesterol level is just about worthless in determining your risk for heart disease, unless it is above 300.”  Another doctor said not to worry until you’re between 250 and 300. That’s crapola as far as I’m concerned. There is a reason they say better safe than sorry.

Today’s news scared me. And while I’m not fond of being scared, I am, in this case, grateful.

Here’s the thing. I like life and I like my life and I’ll be damned if I’m going to continue on as-is. I swim four to five times a week and will lengthen my swims and increase other forms of exercise. I will also focus on diet change.  So many of us – including me – have relationships with certain types of food so intimate you’d think they were family members, best friends. Many times a particular food can very much feel like a best friend. I get this. But because it feels like a best friend doesn’t make it one. Better to go through losing the food than losing your life, don’t you think? I do.

And then, for me, when it comes to facing a threat to my life, there is this. I did not get up off the ground after getting shot in 1984 only to die because I wouldn’t change my diet or  increase my exercise regimen. I smoked my last cigarette on June 3, 1990 because it made no sense to die from smoking after living through the shooting. Hell, it doesn’t make sense to die from smoking period.

So, I will change my diet, I will exercise more, and I do very much look forward to my scheduled appointment with my doctor on March 13.

Posted in cholesterol, diet and exercise, heart disease, ldl | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment