Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Firm Picked to Run LICH Paid $95M to Settle Medicare Fraud Suit

 Dozens of protesters gathered in front of LICH, fighting SUNY Downstate's decision to end emergency ambulance service to the hospital.

The company selected to run the proposed new Long Island College Hospital paid nearly $100 million in fines to the feds to settle accusations it systematically defrauded the U.S. health care system for nearly 15 years, DNAinfo New York has learned.

The U.S. Justice Department alleged that Quorum Health kept two sets of books on its Medicare costs from 1985 to 1999 — one of which contained inflated, reimbursable medical costs, which it presented to the government for payment. And in a separate case, Quorum was accused of wrongdoing at an Alabama Hospital involving misallocated costs to inflate government payouts.

In April 2001, the company — one of the largest health care providers in the country — forked over $95.5 million to settle the two lawsuits.

Quorum Health recently surfaced as part of a newly formed consortium called Brooklyn Health Partners, which won the statewide bid to reopen LICH. It beat out eight other bidders to take over the troubled Cobble Hill facility, offering $250 million and a community-pleasing pledge to operate a 300- to 400-bed hospital at the site.

Brooklyn Health was cobbled together by California hospital provider Merrell Schexnydre, who reported that Quorum management would run the hospital.

But federal records show Quorum Health, a Tennessee firm that operates about 200 hospitals around the country, came under Justice Department scrutiny after a whistle-blower alleged the company was cooking its books and falsely receiving millions of dollars in Medicare reimbursement.

In announcing the Medicare fraud settlement in April 2001, the Justice Department declared “the civil settlement resolves allegations that (Quorum) made false statements in annual cost reports to various fiscal intermediaries, the companies that process Medicare cost reports for the government.”

The company also has several other recent lawsuits involving bankruptcy or negligence cases, including a federal suit filed in February in Mississippi in which a hospital claims Quorum's management was “so abysmal that the hospital’s chief financial officer vanished following a scathing report.”

The company did not respond to several phone calls seeking comment.

When Quorum settled the massive federal case it denied wrongdoing, but claimed it agreed to the penalty to put the matter to rest and move on.

Donnette Dunbar, a spokeswoman for Brooklyn Health, said Schexnydre selected Quorum because of his belief in their expertise as a top health provider. She was unaware of Quorum’s past troubles with the feds, and declined comment.

LICH had 500 beds — only 200 were filled — before the State University of New York shut the site last February after years of turmoil and financial troubles, bleeding about $13 million a month, state officials said. 

SUNY voted unanimously to close the hospital in February 2013. The decision met with a massive outcry and protest that included then mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio being arrested outside the facility last July.

In February, the state decided to accept bids to take over the struggling hospital with no application fees or monies required upfront.

SUNY did not respond to a request for comment.

Brooklyn Partners edged out Peebles Corporation and Witcoff Group, which had agreed to pay $260 million and planned to operate an emergency room and urgent care center.

With hundreds of jobs at stake, officials said, the offer to keep the site as a full-time hospital obviously helped the Brooklyn Partners bid, even though filling the beds has been a key problem.

SUNY expects to complete the transaction with Brooklyn Health by May 22.

In the meantime, Brooklyn Partners is looking for financial backers. The firm has until the first week of May to post 10 percent of its bid or lose its top spot for the facility.

Led by Schexnydre, who is a California real estate developer and former clinical lab supervisor, Brooklyn Health's proposal calls for a 150-bed temporary hospital with an emergency room, ambulatory care, intensive care, and other medical facilities to open while hospital construction is underway.

The consortium also promises to create 1,000 apartments, some below market rate, commercial space and medical offices on the campus.

If a new operator isn't selected, SUNY will likely give up control of the hospital in May 2014 and LICH will close.

Source: DNAinfo New York

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Importance behind Charitable Giving

There are many ways you can spend your hard earned dollars. And there is nothing wrong with rewarding yourself for your hard work and a job well done. But, what would happen if you rewarded someone else instead?   

Charitable giving is extremely important for a number of reasons. It extends a positive attitude beyond your inner circles, to the public and to the community. Supporting a cause can help keep you informed about issues in society.

Giving to charity may also improve your sense of well-being. You will be making a difference in the society and will also be promoting ethical behavior and morale. This leads to a better culture in the community and long-term benefits in societal culture.                                 

Despite her busy law practice, Attorney Inna Fershteyn continues to be involved and give back to the community. She is a President of the NY Association of Russian-Speaking Women Attorneys, a member of the Board of Directors of Edith and Carl Marks Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst, and a member of American Jewish Committee (AJC). She is also on the board of directors of Young Actors International Music Theater, Inc., a theatre for children aged 5 to 13 which produces Broadway-style plays and shows in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

She helped to establish The Menachem Education Foundation; established to professionalize Jewish Schools and offer the highest caliber of education to children.

There are also other ways to give back as well. Attorney Inna Fershteyn, who specializes in estate planning, notes the importance behind planning for children with disabilities. For parents who cannot afford to pay for an attorney, she assists them by helping with their estate planning for their children with disabilities- free of charge.

Ms. Fershteyn has also recently returned to her alma mater, New York University, to participate as a member of the first Family Advisory Council at NYU Langone Medical Center’s Sala Institute for Child and Family Centered Care.  

Ms. Fershteyn encourages everyone to give back in any and every way – whether it is money, your time, or your services. Charitable giving sets an example, inspires, and engages others to do the same. It encourages positive change to all around you.

Your actions are what define you in the eyes of others, and most importantly, in your own eyes. One small action from you can mean a huge difference to someone else. Giving back is among the most important and valuable things someone can do.

Law Office of Inna Fershteyn and Associates, P.C.
(718) 333-2394
1517 Voorhies Avenue, Suite 4
Brooklyn, NY 11235

Friday, April 18, 2014

Rich New Yorkers Face a Nasty Estate Tax Surprise

New York City. Park Avenue at dusk. 

If you're a New York multimillionaire, you now have another incentive to stay alive.

A change this month in New York's estate tax, which was billed as tax relief for the wealthy, contains a hidden wrinkle that could leave some multimillionaires with a much bigger surprise tax upon their death. Certain estates could even wind up with a tax rate of 164 percent on portions of their estates, according to one tax expert.

The changes were intended to ease the tax bill for wealthy New Yorkers and prevent them from fleeing to lower-tax states. A report from the Tax Foundation found that New York had the highest tax burden in the country as a percentage of state income. It found that New Yorkers spent 12.6 percent of their per capita income in 2011 on state and local taxes.

"It's nonsensical," said Kevin Matz, an accountant and attorney in White Plains, N.Y.
"The governor said this is about making New York a better climate for the wealthy. It's had the opposite effect."

On its face, the new law seems like tax relief. Under the previous law, New Yorkers paid estate taxes of 3.06 percent to 16 percent on the value of estates over $1 million. The new law raises that exclusion to $2.062 million this year and gradually increases it to more than $5 million by 2017.

But because the law also phases out certain credits related to federal taxes, people who have estates valued just above the $2 million threshold could get massive estate tax bills. An analysis by U.S. Trust found that a New York resident who dies today with a taxable estate of $2,165,625 could have to pay an estate tax of over $112,050. That represents a tax of over 100 percent on the value of the estate over $2,062,000.

It gets worse in a few years. Matz said that assuming that the exclusion rises to $5,250,000, a New Yorker with a taxable estate of $5,512,500 would have to pay an estate tax of $430,050. That's a marginal tax rate of 164 percent on the value of the estate above the exclusion.

"It's a bait and switch," Matz said.

The solution, he said, is to not phase out the tax credits. Or, the state could also allow them to phase out over a much longer period of time.

The New York State Society of CPAs and other groups have sent letters to New York lawmakers in hopes of getting a quick fix. So far, there has been little response.

A spokesman for the New York State Division of the Budget said that while the marginal rates may have changed, "No one's taxes have gone up. The dollar amount they pay does not increase."

He added that the tax change has insured that by the time it's fully implemented in 2017, 90 percent of New York's estates will no longer be taxed.

Matz, however, said the issue is not just a problem for the so-called rich. When you add up the value of property, pension plans, 401(k) plans and other assets, a New Yorker with just over $2 million in New York "is not exactly super rich. In a state with a high cost of living, that's not that unusual." 

Source: DailyFinance