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More transparency to help in analysis of the NYS Early Intervention Program billing problems

Posted Aug 05 2013 4:08pm
On 7/15/13 I posted about how the interim State Fiscal Agent appeared to be trolling NYS Early Intervention Service Providers for private business.

In the interest of transparency, I wanted to update that issue.

In the email I referenced how UNYEIP stated that Director Hutton would write financial hardship letters for providers who have not been paid.  I attempted to verify this and the Bureau of Early Intervention would not admit that they would do this; this is the email that I received from them
I was not able to find out anything further about hardship letters.  However, BEI made the announcement below on Friday [referencing how providers can borrow money that the State owes them - cja editorial comment].  Counties must sign and return an agreement to the Department if they choose to participate in the PEP.  Providers must also sign an agreement and return it to the Department if they wish to avail themselves of the PEP if the municipality is participating.  All information regarding the PEP, including which municipalities are participating, is being posted on EIBilling.com as they return their agreement.  The provider agreement should already be available on EIBilling.com by now.  If you have further questions about the PEP, please address them to BEI@health.state.ny.us .  Thanks.

I found this interesting.  Maybe it was their intent to replace the hardship letters with a loan program.  Counties were not too thrilled with the Bureau of Early Intervention's "loan program" because it basically was just another mandate on Counties - and that is rather ironic because the whole point of the SFA was as a point of mandate relief. 

In Washington County, Salem supervisor Seth Pitts (a member of the county board's Health Committee) had the best statement I have heard in a really long time.  He was quoted in Poststar.com
“These rocket scientists in Albany come up with this brilliant idea and then these boobs want us to pay for it.”

Anyway, I received a response from Chris Weiss about the letter that seemed to be trolling.  He apparently works for the interim SFA, although in some other division.  This is what he told me about his letter:

Mr Alterio,

I'm sorry to confuse you.  I do not work with eibilling.com.  

As I stated, I work with providers such as yourself and have been working with them to determine the most efficient daily procedures for EI.  That work led to the information I sent to you and many others (who don't use my software or pay anything for that information).  I'm sorry that you didn't find it as useful as most people I've talked with have and will remove you from my mailings of any future information / suggestions.

Apologetically,
-Chris Weis

 He took the time to cc: his email to the head of the company.  I was not impressed with the half-hearted commentary about how he thought he was sending out useful information, so I sent it all to the Bureau of Early Intervention because I think they need to take this seriously.  Today I received this email from the Bureau of Early Intervention about my concerns that the interim State Fiscal Agent appeared to be trolling for business
We are responding to your e-mail below.

We will bring this issue to our director’s attention and address it as they determine.

Thank you for bring this to our attention.

Not terribly specific or formal, but I guess they received my concerns at least.

This is all relatively important for the public to be aware of.  Over the last week there has been a surge in press and commentary on Twitter and Facebook about payment problems in the Early Intervention Program.

While providers are waiting to be paid for services that they provided months ago, the interim SFA seems to be trolling for ancillary business and the Bureau of Early Intervention is looking into it.  I always find it helpful to juxtapose reality of what is not happening (getting paid) with the reality of what appears to be happening (advantaging relationships and email distribution lists  of NYS for promoting your products and presumably attempting to boost sales outside of interim SFA responsibilities).

As providers and families continue to experience difficulties with the EI program, this is the kind of important information needed to help understand the motivations of the players involved.

I welcome any involved parties to submit information to me if I have misrepresented their email communications to me in any way.  Transparency is only good when it moves in every possible direction, and I welcome it.
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