Feds: NYS System Fails Developmentally Disabled

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From the Poughkeepsie Journal, January 12, 2012:

“ALBANY. A federal report finds the Cuomo administration and previous administrations ran a system to care for the developmentally disabled that not only failed patients and had an alarming number of unexplained deaths, but also excluded public review and ideas that could have protected patients better.

“The Department of Health and Human Services report cited recent New York Times articles in concluding the state Commission on Quality Care, which is supposed to oversee the system of state care by several agencies, should operate independently from the governor.

“The newspaper found 10 percent of deaths in the system were attributed to unknown causes. The Times analyzed more than 1,200 people who died in the state’s care in the past decade, finding one in six deaths in state and privately run facilities was attributed to unknown or other than natural causes.

“The Poughkeepsie Journal has an ongoing series looking at care at state facilities. In the past year-and-a-half, the Journal has found instances when patients died amid charges of abuse and neglect. Despite these and other charges, state workers have been allowed to keep their jobs in a system where the federal Medicaid reimbursement rate has soared to $5,118 per person, per day. That’s about four times the actual cost of care, with half paid by the state. The rate generates more than $1 billion yearly in federal money that has helped perpetuate rather than close the institutions. Under federal pressure, a new funding system is being developed.

“HHS questioned the agency’s spending and said requirements of federal law were broken. A ‘corrective plan’ is required by Friday.”

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