State comptroller says Medicaid is "leaking" millions, 89-year-old accused of attempted murder-suicide, electricity rates going up, The Missile pleads guilty

State comptroller Tom DiNapoli reported yesterday that New York's Medicaid system is "leaking" millions of dollars. He says the program lost $92 million over the last five years to errors, improper payments and poor record keeping. Among the improper payments cited by the comptroller: $196,000 in cab rides for a woman to travel daily from Dutchess County to Albany to visit her son. [NYS OSC] [NYT] [TU]

The Troy city council and mayor Harry Tutunjian were in court yesterday in an attempt to resolve their budget dispute. They didn't -- and now a judge will rule. [Troy Record] [TU]

Niskayuna police say an 89-year-old man tried to kill his 87-year-old sister as part of an attempted murder-suicide last week. He's been charged with attempted murder. [TU] [CapNews9]

Real estate agents say the federal first-time home buyer tax credit led to a surge in closed sales in the Capital Region last month (up 36 percent from last year, though only about 2 percent from 2007). There's still a lot of inventory. [TU] [AOA]

A grand jury report concluded that the state-run group home in the Adirondacks that burned earlier this year, killing four people with developmental disabilities, had a bunch of design and operational problems. Among the problems cited by the panel: better fire drills might have kept three of the residents from going back inside the house after they were evacuated. The panel also reported that the fire appears to have started in a trash can. [CapNews9] [TU] [Daily Gazette $]

National Grid electricity rates are up going up January 1. [TU]

The Schenectady cop who topped the department's pay chart last year is expected to be arraigned on charges that he wasn't actually working during some of the time he was on duty. A grand jury handed up a sealed indictment in his case yesterday. [TU] [Daily Gazette $]

Troy police says four man -- some of the men armed -- broke into a Lansingburgh home yesterday and pistol-whipped the resident. [Troy Record]

Albany police say they've arrested two teens who allegedly were involved with 25 or more burglaries around North Albany. [TU]

One of the men involved with the stabbing on Broadway in Saratoga earlier this year pleaded guilty yesterday and was sentenced to five years in prison. [Saratogian] [Daily Gazette $]

Former professional mountain biker Missy "The Missile" Giove pleaded guilty to drug charges yesterday stemmed from a bust in Wilton earlier this year. She could get up to five years in prison. [Saratogian] [Fox23] [CapNews9]

The first drug offender from Rensselaer County to have his sentence reviewed under the reformed Rockefeller drug laws had his time cut from 15-30 to five years. [Troy Record]

Comments

How *ANYBODY* could think that daily $300 cab rides were medically necessary is beyond me. Whoever signed off on this should be fired. Period.

I agree about the cab rides- absolutely outrageous. There were plenty of other options available.

The statement about the car rides was simplified in the link text and the first paragraph of the article to make it sound more dramatic and shocking. From the article:

"She took a taxi five days a week to visit her child at St. Margaret's Center, an Albany nursing home for disabled children. Medicaid pays to transport enrollees to medical appointments and medically required care, but auditors said these rides were not necessary...When the child was transferred to St. Margaret's Center in Albany in 2004, St. Mary's sent a letter to the Albany facility "stressing the importance of the mother's involvement in the child's care.""

This was a judgment call as to what was medically necessary for her child's care and rehabilitation, not simply someone bilking the system for free cab fare, as the link text implies.

Ah, Missy Giove...what a fall from grace. She was an early racing inspiration for me - totally fearless riding style. Rumor had it that she did some local riding after she was sprung.

As far as all this Medicaid talk goes - people have to understand that many not for profit agencies such as the one I work for are saddled with covering costs of certain services that the feds deem to not be 'medically necessary', but the state body/recipient of federal medicaid funding states we must cover (i.e. transportation).
NY state is a federal target because of our enriched use of Medicaid - according to the feds, NY state government as a whole has learned to game the system by use of what is called Medicaid Waiver. (for every fed $1 brought in, NY State gets $2 back). It is a way to fund NFP's to do all kinds of things to enrich peoples lives, though they might not be medically necessary. Case in point - my group helps people with developmental disabilities to take on volunteer opportunities and also paid employment. Is it medically necessary? I dunno. Has it helped folks self esteem and has it helped society as a whole to see these folks for what they can do versus their 'disability'? I think so. This essentially embodies the rub between the feds and NYS govt.

@Jon:

Seriously. $300 each day?

Couldn't the patient have been transferred to a facility closer to the mother? Couldn't the mother have taken a bus? Or a train? This is not a judgment call. This is complete insanity.

@Fred

I don't have answers to those questions. Like I said, it was a judgment call, based on the information that they had. Did the mother have a medical condition where she could not drive? Did she have transportation to get to/from the train station at each location? You and I do not know.

"Complete insanity" is an overly emotional reaction to a situation about which you have half the information. Precisely the response that the author of the linked article was hoping to elicit.

Okay, okay... "complete insanity" is over the top.

But I cannot imagine a medical reason why the best option would be $300 cab rides. Let's presume (somehow) that the mom can't take a bus or train and needs a car. Absurd, but OK. Fine. Couldn't a less-expensive option be found? A car service?

Yes, we don't have the full story. But rational thought leads to the conclusion that this was a waste of the state's money.

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