It is revealing but not surprising that the New York’s Brain Injury Association – not the state’s Traumatic Brain Injury Services Coordinating Council (TBISCC) or Department of Health – is announcing what the next TBISCC meeting will be about. It is no secret that the leadership of all three groups are, figuratively speaking, in bed together. It is also no coincidence that Michael Kaplen and Judith Avner lead the council and both, until recently, led BIANYS. Avner is still the BIANYS executive director.
According to the BIANYS website, “The September meeting will be dedicated to a discussion of the Concussion Management and Awareness Act (S. 3953-B) which passed the legislature at the end of the session. Discussion will focus on recommendations on the implementation of that legislation to the Commissioner of the Department of Health.” The passage of the act is, without question, a positive step forward. For the council to provide recommendations is all well and good and certainly appropriate. How is it, though, that BIANYS knows, before it is a announced
It is also no secret that little if any evidence exists of BIANYS or TBISCC leadership ever taking the DOH to task for some of its rather brutal treatment of brain injury survivors and, not incidentally, its rather brutal treatment those who provide services to brain injury survivors. New York’s Brain Injury Providers Alliance, for example, has, for some time now, been rightfully pleading with the DOH for a statewide uniform billing policy and they are still waiting.
What is not appropriate and what is an act of disloyalty pure and simple to New York’s brain-injured individuals is the fact TBISCC and BIANYS leadership will do anything but hold DOH accountable.
The council was asked to look into the blatant injustice of the state’s TBI Waiver complaint line managed jointly by the DOH and BIANYS. Complainants are never told the outcomes of their complaints, a lack of due process by any measure.
With only one or two exceptions, the council has tip-toed around the fact the DOH has told TBI Waiver providers they cannot side with complainants at Medicaid Fair Hearings. BIANYS has completely avoided addressing this issue.
The TBISCC and BIANYS remain dead silent even though a recent article in the Albany Times Union and this blog have reported DOH’s effort to use any excuse under the sun to discontinue housing subsidies for brain-brain injured individuals even when doing so would leave them homeless and jeopardize their lives.
One question that needs to be asked is this. Is the Kaplen-Avner show the problem? A step in the right direction would be for Kaplen and Avner to step down, then we would find out.