Whether or not you’re on the New York State’s Traumatic Brain Injury Medicaid Waiver, you’ve got no allies in the Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Department of Health. In fact, Cuomo’s DOH is the main reason NYers with brain injury disabilities are struggling to get the services they deserve.
Recently this writer asked Deputy DOH Commissioner Mark Kissinger who in the DOH was drafting the new TBI Waiver Manual. He would not tell me. Never mind that he oversees the waiver and knew the answer, he simply would not tell me. I then filed a FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) request for the information. After about twenty days I received notice via email that the DOH needed another 30 days to gather the information.
In other words, I was being asked to believe that Kissinger genuinely needed 50 days in all to figure out who worked for him.
In all likelihood the reason for the DOH’s reluctance to provide the information is linked to the following fact. Not one of the people drafting the manual have any expertise at all in the brain. Not a clinician among them. In fact, when the information requested finally arrived, those drafting the manual are some of the DOH folks who’ve been inflicting the most damage on waiver recipients, cutting services whenever they can think of an excuse, ending housing subsidies, limiting services, and sending out notices seeking to throw people off the waiver altogether.
Who are those in the DOH drafting the manual (an in-progress document the DOH will not share with anyone)? Kissinger, Lydia Kosinski, Dawn Wiese and, Maribeth “Knuckles” Gnozzio. Gnozzio stopped attending meetings of the state’s Traumatic Brain Injury Services Coordinating Council (TBISCC) once her rather problematic background was fully exposed in this blog. Never mind that she’s the program director for the waiver, why bother to attend council meetings when the council’s legislative mandate is to help the DOH identify effective ways of growing the lives of NYers with brain injuries?
The DOH’s dishonesty is on display anytime it professes to care about NYers with brain injuries.
It warehouses some with brain injuries in other states, and despite spending millions of NY taxpayer dollars for their care, refuses to follow-up when informed a NYer placed out of state is suffering or, worse still, being neglected, abused. At a recent TBISCC meeting DOH officials were anything but response when asked what, if anything, prevents New York from filing a complaint with the federal government’s Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS) if it suspects a NYer placed out of state is not getting proper care. CMS oversees long term care in all the states. The fact is, the DOH doesn’t care. Despite the huge sums for keeping NYers placed out of state, sources say it is less expensive than bringing them home.
Lest anyone think there is an upside to the DOH, consider this. A federal judge had to issue a restraining order in 2011 to prevent the DOH from throwing from throwing a 66-year-old disabled woman off the the TBI Waiver and ending her housing subsidy and demanding the woman pay them $24,000, all without explanation. Actions that would have likely put her life in danger by rendering her homeless.
Can you guess who in the DOH were driving the bus back in 2011? Let me help you: Kissinger, Kosinski, and “Knuckles” Gnozzio. Three of those drafting the TBI Waiver manual. No wonder they didn’t want anyone to know.