NYS Brain Injury Association & Council stand against rights of brain-injured New Yorkers

New York State’s Brain Injury Association and Traumatic Brain Injury Services Coordinating Council are not interested in defending the rights of brain-injured New Yorkers.

  • Brain-injured New Yorkers who file complaints related to the TBI Waiver are never informed of the results by the state’s Department of Health. Both BIANYS and the TBISCC are well aware of this; their refusal to address the matter reflects their position. 
  • Waiver providers are not allowed by the DOH to advocate for brain-injured New Yorkers at Medicaid Fair Hearings; both BIANYS and the TBISCC are well aware of this; their refusal to address the matter reflects their position.
  • The assault on housing subsidies being inflicted by the DOH on brain-injured New Yorkers, a campaign that puts some at risk for homelessness and threatens the lives of others.  In one instance a federal court judge had to step in protect the life of one brain-injured senior from the DOH Campaign. Both BIANYS and the TBISCC are well aware of the DOH housing-cuts campaign; their silence on the matter reflects this position.

Both groups have been asked repeatedly to address all these  issues and while the TBISCC gives intermittent lip-service to the Medicaid Fair Hearings question, BIANYS – which proclaims itself the leading advocacy organization in the state for brain-injured New Yorkers – remains stone silent. At the beginning of yesterday’s council meeting Judith Avner, assistant chair of the council and executive director of BIANYS, said the council needed to hear what the actual DOH policy was regarding fair hearings. The DOH has for months been saying they’re working on a policy. One might think Ms. Avner’s statement was  reason for hope but when DOH official MaryAnn Anglin arrived at the meeting later no council member, including Ms. Avner, asked her about the fair hearing policy.

It seems one has a better chance of nailing Jell-O to the wall than getting the council to offer the DOH  proposals that have anything whatsoever to do with the TBI Waiver.  It had been proposed by this writer on behalf of the Kahrmann Advocacy Coalition the the council formally recommend that all DOH staff, contract and otherwise, be required to take training in brain injury now offered by BIANYS. DOH staff and contract staff involved with brain injury receive no mandatory training in the brain or in brain injury. While BIANYS is not the advocacy organization it claims to be, it is, without question, the best educational resource for understanding brain injury in the state. The council can’t even make this recommendation!

The DOH’s intentions are clearly sinister. One can only conclude that the reason for blocking waiver providers from supporting their brain-injured clients at Fair Hearings is to undercut the client’s ability to prevail, thus making it easier for the DOH to kick them off the waiver. One can only conclude the reason complainants are not given the results of their complaints is a reflection of the DOH covering its, well, ass. One can only conclude the reason the DOH is kicking as many people off the waiver and out of their homes as possible is to save money, even though this literally risks human life.

The silence of BIANYS and the TBISCC tells us both groups agree with the DOH, at least the leadership of both groups does.

When this writer spoke during the public comment period at yesterday’s meeting and told the council that there are brain-injured New Yorkers whose lives are at risk because of the actions of the DOH and the silence of BIANYS and the council, council chair Michael Kaplen responded by immediately adjourning the meeting.

BIANYS and TBISCC leadership needs to either step up or step out, and soon.

The BIANYS Journey of Nope Gala

“The Brain Injury Association of New York State is the premier support and advocacy organization for New Yorkers with brain injury and their families,” according to the letter. One would be hard pressed to find a statement less true than that.

The letter is a BIANYS fund raising letter asking everyone to donate money to assist them in their “important work” at the fourth annual Journey of Hope Gala (renamed above for accuracy’s sake) at some pricey location in New York City. BIANYS should stop with the spin and be straight about what work they do, and, equally important, what work they don’t do. Perhaps when the authors of the letter, Gala co-chairs Rosemarie diSalvo and Bradley Van Nostrand learn BIANYS is not the advocacy organization it wants everyone to think it is they’ll pause and rethink their involvement.

Perhaps too, when actresses Lorraine Bracco and Penny Marshall, both of whom, according to one website “have stocked the (gala’s) silent auction with celebrity memorabilia from their friends and several of their friends” learn they are supporting an organization that isn’t what it says it is, they’ll re-think their involvement. After all, BIANYS support for New York’s brain-injured individuals and their families is anemic at best. Three Albany-based BIANYS support groups came to an end recently because of BIANYS refusal to reimburse support group leaders for their out-of-pocket expenses and, in the Albany case, a rejection of the pleadings for help from support group members, made up of, you guessed it, the very brain-injured individuals and family members BIANYS says it cares about. 

While BIANYS claims it can’t afford to reimburse its volunteers for their expenses, lets review the cost of attending the gala, as an individual or in one of several sponsor levels which lands you extra tickets (hold onto your hat).

  • Gala Ticket $300
  • Patron Sponsor: $400 (1 ticket)
  • Friend Sponsor: $1,000 (2 tickets)
  • Leadership Sponsor: $2,500 (6 tickets)
  • Bronze Sponsor: $7,500 (8 tickets)
  • Silver Sponsor: $10,000 (10 tickets)
  • Gold Sponsor: $15,000 (20 tickets)
  • Platinum Sponsor: $25,000 (30 tickets)

I wonder how many brain-injured individuals on fixed incomes and their families will be going.

Enough said.