City Council scrutinizes ‘pop up’ senior centers

June 7, 2013 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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They’re called “pop up” senior citizen centers because they suddenly appear out of nowhere, usually opening up in a storefront location in a community with signs promising to give older adults an array of health and educational services.

They look like your average senior citizen center, but these “pop up” centers don’t offer the services legitimate centers do, according to City Council members. Instead, the centers lure unsuspecting senior citizens and entice them into signing on with a managed health care program. By signing seniors up for managed care, the operators of these centers are able to collect Medicaid reimbursements, officials said.

In other words, it’s all a scheme, officials said.

Within the past year, nearly 200 “pop-up” social adult day care programs have opened in the city, some of which have been actively luring healthy clients from traditional senior centers and referring them to managed care plans, according to Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

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Many of the centers have opened up in Brooklyn, officials said.

On June 6, Quinn, Health Committee Chairman Maria del Carmen Arroyo and Aging Committee Chairman Jessica Lappin announced legislation to regulate social adult day care centers.

The legislation would require the “pop up” centers to provide proper supervision, monitoring, care and nutrition of their clients.

State Sen. Diane Savino (D-Bay Ridge-Bensonhurst-Staten Island) was among the elected officials and health care providers who joined Quinn and council leaders at the press conference where the legislation was discussed.

“It is outrageous that these so-called ‘pop-up’ centers are threatening the wellbeing of our seniors while draining Medicaid resources from legitimate programs for older adults,” Quinn said. “Increased oversight and regulation of these programs is needed immediately. We won’t allow the operators of these programs to take advantage our city’s most vulnerable residents,” she said.

New York State does not require a license, certification or registration to operate these centers, although programs that receive State or local funding – including eight programs funded by the council – adhere to regulations issued by the New York State Office of the Aging. Private programs operate without any oversight, officials said.

The legislation will impose the same standards applied to government-funded programs to all social adult day centers in the city, ensuring that only functionally impaired adults attend these programs and that these participants receive appropriate services in a safe environment, Quinn said. Programs that violate standards or fail to register will face fines ranging from $250 to $1,000 per day.

The city’s Department of Health will be the lead agency in charge of ensuring that the centers adhere to the law. Residents with complaints about “pop up’ centers will be able to register their complants with the city’s Department for the Aging.

“I have seen first-hand some of the practices of these ‘adult day cares;’ this was not what Medicaid is for and a gross exploitation of seniors for profit, it must end, thanks to Speaker Quinn’s and the Independent Democratic Conference’s efforts here today, it will end,” Savino said. Savino is a member of the Independent Democratic Conference in the state senate.

“We appreciate the efforts of our elected officials to address this issue and we look forward to analyzing the impact of this legislation and providing our recommendations for consideration,” said Christopher S. Nadeau, vice president of the New York State Adult Day Services Association.

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