NY State DOH Communicates but…

If material presented by the New York State Department of Health  is to be believed, no DOH employee has ever mentioned Medicaid Fair Hearings in writing and the DOH has absolutely no policies and procedures when it comes to Medicaid Fair Hearings, not even one.

It is hard to imagine that the absence of any Medicaid Fair Hearing policies and procedures and the absence of any mention of them in writing by anyone in the DOH is anything but a willful act on the part of the DOH.

Some background. In December of last year this writer filed a FOIL (Freedom of Information Law)  request with the DOH seeking, and I quote:

Any and all policies and procedures and any and all emails or other forms of written or recorded communications that are related to Medicaid Fair Hearings.

– Any and all policies and procedures and any and all emails or other forms of written or recorded communications that are related to the state’s traumatic brain injury waiver, the RRDCs ( Regional Resource Development Centers) and RRDSs (Regional resource Development Specialists) and assistant RRDSs and their role in Medicaid Fair Hearings

– Any and all policies and procedures and any and all emails or other forms of written or recorded communication that are related to directives from DOH (and or contract employees of DOH) that relate to TBI Waiver providers and their role in Medicaid Fair Hearings

– Any and all information that relates to DOH Policies and Procedures that apply to Medicaid Fair Hearings

In response to this request I received only a training binder for fair hearing officers, that’s it.

A case in point: DOH employee Maribeth Gnozzio has a seemingly well-earned reputation for, with rare exception, not returning phone calls or emails. Nevertheless, she communicates rather frequently with the the Traumatic Brain Injury Waiver’s RRDCs  she is charged with overseeing across the state. The RRDCs oversee waiver providers and participants in different regions.

However, it seems that despite sending in the neighborhood of 3,658 emails to RRDCs in 2010, she too never mentions Medicaid Fair Hearings once. A remarkable feat indeed since several sources say it was Gnozzio who told RRDCs during a phone conferences last year that waiver providers are not to appear in support of waiver participants in Medicaid Fair Hearings, a nasty Machiavellian directive to say the least and a directive that can only be designed to undercut a waiver participant’s chances in a fair hearing. The results have no doubt  been brutal for more than one person living with a brain injury since it no coincidence that this rather sadistic DOH directive was issued at a time when there seems to be a wide-ranging effort to discharge people from the waiver or notify them their services are being cut. To send some of us who live with brain injuries into a Medicaid Fair Hearing without our waiver case managers can be like asking someone to climb Mount Everest without oxygen, and the DOH knows it.

Here is a regional breakdown of the approximate number of emails sent by Gnozzio to RRDCs in 2010:

Capital District – 226

Buffalo – 236

Long Island – 886

Lower Hudson Valley – 506

New York City – 704

Adirondacks – 244

Rochester – 140

Binghamton – 260

Syracuse – 130

Sent to all RRDCs – 326

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