Medicaid Shift Fuels Rush for Profitable Clients

When Hurricane Sandy flooded two adult homes in Queens, hundreds of disabled, elderly or mentally ill residents were caught in the surge. After weeks in public shelters, they were bused, over their objections, to a dilapidated four-story building called King’s Hotel, in a crime-ridden section of Brooklyn.

Many had not showered in days. Crammed three cots to a room, they lacked basics like clean underwear. But in the parallel universe of New York’s redesigned Medicaid program, they represented a gold mine.

Business managers from CenterLight Healthcare, a managed care company specializing in long-term services, huddled in a ground floor hotel room, poring over health data and spreadsheets that identified residents by name and room number. At the managers’ direction, crews of enrollment nurses tracked down residents to pressure as many as possible to sign up with the company’s long-term care plan, according to current and former CenterLight employees who were there.

To CenterLight, which had struck an unusual deal with the state to run the hotel as a temporary adult home, the evacuees were a captive audience, and each signature was worth $45,600 a year in fixed monthly Medicaid fees. To an agency supplying aides there, the signatures also meant more money.

– The New York Times

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