NY MEDICAID PLANS FINED $2.6M FOR DENYING MENTAL HEALTH CLAIMS
STATEWIDE — FIVE MAJOR HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANIES IN NEW YORK were fined more than $2.6 million after their Medicaid managed care plans “repeatedly and inappropriately denied claims” or failed to pay for behavioral health services at the rates required by law, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Thursday. Affinity Health Plan Inc. was fined $349,500; Amida Care, Inc., was fined $232,000; EmblemHealth was fined $422,000; MetroPlus HealthPlan Inc., was fined $584,000; and MVP HealthPlan Inc. was fined $1 million.
“No New Yorker should face unnecessary barriers to mental health care, especially if their insurance carrier fails to meet their legal obligation to cover these essential services,” Hochul said.
FORMER NYS COMPTROLLER ALAN HEVESI DIES AT 83
QUEENS — FORMER NYS COMPTROLLER ALAN HEVESI, who helped reform the state’s nursing home industry and inaugurated the first investigations unit in the state comptroller’s office, has died at 83 after a “prolonged illness,” NY1 reported on Thursday. Hevesi, a Queens Democrat, served in the state Assembly and as New York state comptroller before resigning in 2006 when it came out that he had been using state employees to care for his sick wife. He later served time in prison over a “pay-to-play scheme” involving the New York State Pension Fund.
Hevesi and his wife, Carol, had three children, including former New York state Sen. Daniel Hevesi and current Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi.
NAMED AMBASSADOR TO LONELINESS PLEDGES TO HELP ALLEVIATE SOCIAL ISOLATION
STATEWIDE — ICONIC TALK SHOW HOST AND WISE WOMAN DR. RUTH WESTHEIMER HAS BEEN NAMED AS NEW YORK STATE’S honorary Ambassador to Loneliness. Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday, Nov. 9, bestowed the honorary title on the 95-year-old sex therapist, who pledged to help New Yorkers of all ages address the growing issue of social isolation. Social isolation is associated with multiple physical and mental health issues, including cognitive decline, anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disorders and weakened immunity, Alzheimer’s disease and premature death. An orphaned Holocaust survivor, Westheimer rose to prominence as a sex therapist and syndicated talk show host on both radio and television during the 1980s and 1990s.
Last year, the 95-year-old Weistheimer, who adopted the Bronx as home, suggested the idea of becoming an ‘ambassador’ for the state to provide fellow New Yorkers with advice on how to address loneliness and isolation — especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
FBI SEIZES MAYOR ADAMS’ MOBILE DEVICES AS PART OF ELECTION CAMPAIGN PROBE
CITYWIDE—THE FBI, IN POSSESSION OF A SEARCH WARRANT, SEIZED MAYOR ERIC ADAMS’ PHONES AS PART OF A HEIGHTENED FEDERAL INVESTIGATION into his 2021 mayoral campaign. The New York Times, which broke the story, and other major news outlets reported on Friday, Nov. 10 that the federal government is probing whether Adams’ campaign conspired with the Turkish government and others to funnel money into its coffers. According to news sources, FBI agents approached the mayor on the street, instructed his security detail to step away, entered his SUV with him, disclosed the search warrant and took at least two cellphones and an iPad, which were returned to him within days. The FBI is authorized to make copies of the data found on these devices. The Daily News reported that the mayor cooperated with them.
The Times reported this as an “extraordinary development” in the investigation of Adams, a retired police captain who is known for his stringent “law and order” approach to government. Last week, authorities raided the home of Adams’ campaign manager as part of the investigation.
LAWMAKERS URGE TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS FOR PALESTINIANS IN THE U.S.
BROOKLYN AND NATIONWIDE — THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION NEEDS TO AUTHORIZE TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS (TPS) for Palestinians in the United States, says a group of Congressmembers, including Rep. Dan Goldman (D-10) of Brooklyn. The Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Palestinians in the United States designations would prevent Palestinian immigrants who are already in the United States from being sent to an active war zone in the Palestinian territories. The U.S. State Department extended a Level 4 Travel Advisory for Gaza due to “terrorism, civil unrest and armed conflict” and a Level 3 Travel Advisory for the West Bank earlier this month for terrorism and civil unrest. Providing TPS and/or authorizing DED would protect Palestinians in the United States from being forced to return to these dangerous conditions, the lawmakers say.
Rep. Goldman, who with his family was in Israel during the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, had to shelter in a stairwell. Joining him in the letter to Biden were Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Congressmembers Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-09).
POLICE SEEK WOMAN SUSPECTED OF HATE CRIME ATTACK IN FORT GREENE PLAYGROUND
FORT GREENE — POLICE ARE SEARCHING FOR A WOMAN WHO ALLEGEDLY MADE ANTI-ISLAMIC STATEMENTS to a man in Edmonds Playground in Fort Greene and then threw a hot cup of coffee and her cell phone at him. The attack took place on Nov. 7 at about 12:30 p.m., and the victim was not injured, police said. The incident is being investigated by the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force. The suspect is described as having a light complexion and small build. She was last seen wearing a black and white baseball hat, black sunglasses, gray scarf, black zip-up jacket, black fanny pack, black sweatpants and white sneakers.
Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782), or visit
REPORTS UNDERSCORE TACTICAL, FINANCIAL HURDLES THAT CITY AGENCIES FACE
CITYWIDE — A NEW SET OF REPORTS FROM STATE COMPTROLLER THOMAS P. DINAPOLI UNDERSCORES SOME OF THE FINANCIAL AND TACTICAL burdens that NYC agencies face. While numerous entities and agencies are legally separate, NYC is still financially accountable for them in ways that impact the city’s budget. The set of reports focused on the New York City Department of Education, the New York City Housing Authority and New York City Health + Hospitals. At present, these are the most pressing DOE issues: asylum seeker and migrant student enrollment; the downward trend of traditional public school enrollment; the rising tuition costs of charter schools that are also pulling students away from traditional schools; and compliance with the class size mandate to keep funding and special education services.
DiNapoli also launched a new data tracker to monitor trends for New York City agencies’ performance data, staffing, and spending.
DINAPOLI: PUBLIC HOUSING RENT REVENUES FELL AS REPAIR COSTS AND BACKLOGS ROSE
CITYWIDE — NYCHA, THE NATION’S LARGEST PUBLIC HOUSING AUTHORITY AND LANDLORD is facing several concurrent challenges, according to a newly released report from State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. Declining rent collections, particularly during the pandemic when residents lacked sufficient income, has caused budget gaps. Rent revenue used to comprise a third of NYCHA’s operating budget, but continues to drop even after the Public Health Emergency ended. Juxtaposed with this shortfall is an increased capital need for NYCHA’s facilities, requiring $78.3 billion in physical repairs and upgrades. A backlog of maintenance issues and open repair requests is also worsening.
NYCHA indicates that maintenance and upgrade costs have risen, due to rising construction prices and the ongoing physical deterioration of the properties.
DINAPOLI: CITY’S PUBLIC HOSPITALS LED IN COVID AND MIGRANT CRISES BUT NEED CONSISTENT FUNDING
CITYWIDE — NEW YORK CITY HEALTH +HOSPITALS, the nation’s largest public health system, was confronted with an influx of patients during the COVID-19 crisis, and assumed a significant role in planning for and responding to the related public health emergency. While H+H has largely returned to pre-pandemic level services, consistent revenue and funding remain an issue, according to State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli’s latest report on city agency challenges. Moreover, H+H is also a leader in the city’s multi-agency response to the recent influx of asylum seekers and migrants. H+H is also facing nurse staffing shortages. Although the New York State Nurses Association approved a contract agreement in August that would award pay parity, it is not yet known if the city will continue to pick up the higher costs.
DiNapoli reported also that the timing of funds from government sourcing has been inconsistent. H+H’s COVID-19 costs reached $3.2 billion through FY2023 but H+H has yet to receive $1.2 billion from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
GOFUNDME DONATIONS FOR SLAIN CHILD DOUBLE GOAL; FUNERAL 7-YEAR-OLD KAMARI HUGHES HELD THURSDAY
FORT GREENE — MORE THAN 440 GOFUNDME DONATIONS TOTALLING MORE THAN DOUBLE THE $10,000 GOAL HAVE BEEN SENT TO THE FAMILY OF A 7-YEAR-OLD BOY WHO WAS STRUCK AND KILLED by an NYPD tow truck driver last month in Fort Greene. Second-grader Kamari Hughes was mowed down on Oct. 26 while on his way to school with his mother, who witnessed the fatal collision. Kamari was on his scooter, and in the crosswalk when tow truck driver Stephanie Sharp, 54, later identified as a civilian unionized driver, hit the child. Sharp has since been criminally charged with failure to yield to a pedestrian and failure to exercise due care. Kamari’s mother, Taqunda, who organized the GoFundMe, witnessed the collision and told reporters with WPIX TV and other media outlets that Kamari, who loved the superhero Spiderman, was her only child.
Mayor Eric Adams, who also has a son, reached out to the Hughes family after the collision. The viewing and funeral were scheduled to take place Thursday afternoon, Nov. 9.
REP. GOLDMAN TO CONGRESS: BUDGET $7B FOR AFFORDABLE CONNECTIVITY PROGRAM
CITYWIDE — BROOKLYN CONGRESSMAN DAN GOLDMAN (D-10) AND HIS COLLEAGUES IN THE NEW YORK CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION HAVE CALLED for $7 billion to be allocated in funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program. The ACP provides financial assistance to low-income households, helping them to afford internet access as well as one-time subsidies for computers or tablets. Without continued funding, millions of Americans will be cut off from internet access, which nowadays is vital for work, school, and connecting with essential resources. More than 40% of households in New York’s 10th Congressional District are eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program.
Within public housing, the Affordable Connectivity Program is critical to ensuring that NYCHA residents in particular can access high-speed internet; yet, only 30 to 40% of NYCHA residents actually have this access.
JUDGE RAMON E. REYES CONFIRMED AS DISTRICT JUDGE FOR BROOKLYN FEDERAL COURT, ANNOUNCES SEN. SCHUMER
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN—US MAGISTRATE JUDGE RAMON E. REYES, A NATIVE BROOKLYNITE AND RESIDENT OF BROOKLYN, HAS BEEN CONFIRMED to serve as a district judge on the prestigious United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, US Senator Charles E. Schumer announced on Thursday, Nov. 9. Senator Schumer had forwarded Judge Reyes’ name for the Eastern District of New York to the Biden-Harris administration and has championed his nomination. Judge Reyes, who began his career clerking for the same court on which he now sits, is a United States Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District of New York. Known for his diligent leadership in Hurricane Sandy cases, he has also fought to protect voting rights, accessibility to the ballot box, against workplace discrimination, and has advocated for consumers victimized by healthcare fraud.
Reyes, who is Puerto Rican, is only the second Hispanic to join the bench of the US District Court-Eastern District/NY.
HOCHUL, ADAMS CHEER TENTATIVE END TO ACTORS’ STRIKE
NEW YORK — GOV. KATHY HOCHUL AND MAYOR ERIC ADAMS applauded the news that SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP have reached a tentative agreement to end the actors’ strike. In releases on Wednesday night, officials cited the importance of the film and television industry to the state and city economy. “New York’s film and television industry is critical to our state’s economy, creating 65,000 jobs in the past year and $35 billion in economic activity over the past decade,” Hochul said, adding that the industry is a “powerful economic engine and a key source of good-paying union jobs.”
Adams said, “We are thrilled to hear that SAG-AFTRA has reached a tentative agreement that would allow thousands of small businesses and 185,000 New Yorkers to get back to work with good jobs, fair wages, and strong protections that will allow the industry to continue to grow and thrive.”