The former vice president of operations improvement and integration, Edward Lacey, filed a whistleblower lawsuit against Visiting Nurse Service of New York, VNSNY. Lacey left the employment of the agency in January 2016. That agency has played a key role in Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, administrations overhaul of the state’s Medicaid program.
The original lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court, under seal, in 2014. After an investigation by both federal and state authorities, an amended complaint was filed and unsealed in September 2016. The lawsuit was filed under the False Claims Acts of both state and federal law. It alleges that millions of dollars were gained through false claims to Medicaid and Medicare. In short, the company was billing for services that were not rendered to its clients, even though those clients needed the services.
The VNSNY is a nonprofit home health care agency that has served New York since 1893 and is one of the largest in the country. It provides services for the elderly, disabled and low income people of New York. VNSNY services include nursing care, rehabilitation and behavioral health therapy, and end of life services to those of all ages.
The lawsuit suit alleges, according to The New York Times, that “Beyond this massive financial fraud on the government, the ultimate victims here are the tens of thousands of elderly, disabled and impoverished New York residents who because of V.N.S.N.Y.’s misconduct have not been getting the critical home health care services they require”.
In response to an inquiry, the spokesman for VNSNY responded to The New York Times indicating that the lawsuit was filed by a disgruntled employee that had no knowledge of the realities of the business. He indicated that the lawsuit was “self-serving and baseless.” Lacey does stand to gain an award of up to 30 percent of any funds that may be recovered by the government from the agency if it is found guilty.
In 2014, an earlier lawsuit filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office resulted in VNSNY paying $35 million to the state’s Medicaid program to settle claims that it enrolled people in the Medicaid program that were not eligible. Those people did not need, nor did they receive services. According to Politico New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo had a close relationship with the former chief executive of VNSNY, Carol Raphael. In fact, she was appointed to the governor’s policy team tasked with redesigning the state’s Medicaid system by Cuomo himself.
The evidence is, and has been, building that Governor Cuomo hands are dirty. Yet, to date, no charges have been filed against him. How can this be? In an earlier article, I wrote about the claims filed by the New York U.S. Attorney’s Office in the U.S. District Court alleging that there is a direct tie to Governor Cuomo in a pay to play scheme related to projects, funded by taxpayer dollars, that the governor had initiated. Perhaps he is innocent, but it is doubtful. It appears that his administration is corrupt, and, since he leads that administration, how could he not be aware? Especially when those charged are his alleged close allies!