Former Senator Pedro Espada’s Soundview Health Center is hanging on for life.
At a hearing on Monday, November 28, Bronx Civil Court judge Mark Friedlander allowed the Soundview Network to stay on New York State’s Medicaid program, and asked the involved parties to work towards a resolution before their next court appearance, which is scheduled for Monday, December 19.
Soundview’s Medicaid status had been revoked by the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General and the state Department of Health in August, after the agencies alleged it did not have an adequate compliance program.
But later that month, Soundview was granted a stay in Bronx Supreme Court that allowed it to remain on Medicaid pending further hearings.
If Soundview is removed from Medicaid, which sends the clinic $10 million each year, it would likely be forced to close.
Espada, meanwhile, also faces federal charges for misappropriating hundreds of thousands of dollars from the clinic. He is still president of Soundview, which operates five health centers in the Bronx, but says he is “not involved in the day-to-day running of the clinic. I am not being paid by Medicaid funds, neither is my son (Pedro G. Espada). I am awaiting my day in court”
Espada also said that Soundview’s lawyers had been negoatiating in good faith and that the key to the issue was maintaining affordable healthcare in underserved areas.
“We have been in continued conversation with the office of the Medicaid Inspector General and Department of Halth and we’re hopeful that the focus can remain on (Soundview’s) 30 years of service and 20,000 patients,” he said. “It’s clear that we still have to continue to focus in on that. That’s really the main issue.”
Espada maintains that Soundview’s Medicaid compliance plan is, and has been, legitimate.
“Soundview’s been in compliance for 30 years. Whatever miscommunication or misunderstandings have taken place clearly cannot justly result in the limitation of services to so many people… Compliance is about remediation, it’s not about elimination or destruction.”
A spokesperson for the office of the Medicaid Inspector General said her office had one “listening meeting” with Soundview’s lawyers prior to the most recent court date, and that “it was not a negotiating session, and (as of Monday, December 5) they have not requested a future meeting.”
The state Department of Health did not return calls for comment.
Bill Weisbrod can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (718) 742-3394.