Actions Speak Louder than… (you know the rest)

Last year I had a face to face meeting with three officials from the New York State Department of Health: Mark Kissinger, deputy commissioner, Mary Ann Anglin, Division Director, and Carla Williams,  a deputy director and tough-guy wannabe.

Our conversation at the time, one the three officials insisted not be recorded, probably because Williams knew she was going to launch into what can best be described as laughable attempt to be intimidating, revolved around the state’s decision to sign a contract that would allow Timothy J. Feeney back into the state’s TBI waiver knowing full well he misrepresents his credentials. The contract was signed with STIC (Southern Tier Independence Center) in Binghamton. “STIC’s the one that’s on the hook” said Williams, mustering up a dramatically poor imitation of a snarling delivery. “If they don’t live up to the contract it’s on them.”

I left the meeting thinking there may have been at least some sincerity in their claim that survivors would be treated well and with respect and my oh my how all three said they cared so much. I was wrong, though, even now, I think Anglin might. I say I was wrong because Feeney while operating under the contract and being paid by your tax dollars continues to misrepresent his credentials and even though a complaint was filed with the DOH, they have not responded.  Why? They simply don’t care.

Don’t believe me? Ask them. Write to Kissinger at mlk15@health.state.ny.us or Anglin at Maa05@health.state.ny.us or Williams at Crw03@health.state.ny.us

If you want some real fun, write to the DOH’s Beth Gnozzio who issued a directive in a phone conference that TBI Waiver staff are not allowed to appear in support of their clients in Medicaid Fair Hearings. As her why she and the DOH refuse to put this directive in writing? Gnozzio can be reached at mjg07@health.state.ny.us

And copy me if you’d like. peterkahrmann@gmail.com

NY’s TBI Waiver: A New Beginning? Maybe

In an intense forthright discussion with me today, three New York State Department officials, all  part of an impressive new-leadership for the state’s TBI Waiver, made it clear that Timothy J. Feeney will not have the contractual authority he did in the past nor the ability to exceed any contractual authority as survivors (including this writer), family members and providers witnessed in the past.

It was also made clear that the “training” provided by Feeney’s company will not be the only option for providers when it comes to being approved for being PBIS (Behavioral) Directors.

Equally important to understand is that the state’s contract is with the Southern Tier Independence Center (STIC) in Binghamton, not Feeney’s company, and STIC is on the hook to make sure the neurobehavioral contract’s deliverables are provided as called for in the contract. All indications are STIC will be giving the work to Feeney and his people.

I like, and was genuinely impressed, with the three folks I met with today: Deputy Commissioner Mark Kissinger, Carla Williams, Deputy Director Office of Long Term Care and Mary Ann Anglin, Director of the Division of Home & Community Based Care Services. Kissinger is wonderfully straight forward and direct, Ms. Williams, who will never be accused of being shy or understated, is refreshingly intense and forceful, and Ms. Anglin is  a marvelously clear and creative thinker. All three made their loyalty to the best possible waiver clear to me, and I have no reason to disbelieve them. If I did (or ever do), I’ll tell you.

It is important to note too that these three were not at the helm back in the days when Feeney was able to run roughshod over people and providers, inflicting admission holds at will and, as many of us know, acting on his penchant for reminding providers that if they didn’t do what he told them to do, he’d shut off their admissions straight away. Feeney and his crew would at times direct who should be fired and who should or should not be promoted. I can even recall instances where he directed that cognitive therapy is not an option because it doesn’t work; about as absurd a claim as one can make in the world of brain injury. Kind of like telling someone summiting Everest that oxygen is irrelevant.

I was also reassured that survivors, families and providers should not hesitate to file complaints if they have them. I explained that in the past there was a reality-based fear in filing complaints against Feeney and his crew because the response was often punitive. Fear can be a helluva manager. I was assured in no uncertain terms that those days are in the past.

And so we will see. I can tell you that if you have complaints or concerns of any kind, you can file them with the Kahrmann Advocacy Coalition (kahrma1@gmail.com) as well as with the Brain Injury Association of New York State.