Social centers rampant

The New Age Social Center for Adults appears to offer a multitude of services other than healthcare. (Inset) Services listed in Spanish include free food, transportation, movies, pedicures, manicures, parties, dancing, and billiards.
Photo by David Cruz

After a day of social activities there, Hector Delacruz walked out of the New Age Social Adult Daycare, at the center of a major corruption scandal involving Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, and former Assemblyman Nelson Castro.

He didn’t know who they were. He didn’t care. All he knew was the facility’s “the best thing that’s happened to this neighborhood.”

“We never had something like this in the neighborhood,” said Delacruz, a 30-year senior citizen concerned over the Fordham Heights center’s future.

Dina Ely, another New Age attendee, wrote a review of it on the company’s website, declaring the facility to be “a perfect place for me to spend my time…T hank you for opening this place in our neighborhood.

New Age is still open, but it’s founders are embroiled in the Stevenson scandal, with the Morrisania pol accused of taking $20,000 in bribes to fast track opening the building while drafting a bill to put a three-year hold on future competing adult centers.

But the center’s uncertainty, its operators and source of funding are a mystery itself, given the lack of oversight from any city or state agency on such centers.

New Age, for instance, is considered a for-profit social daycare center, an alternative to full-scale nursing homes and adult day care centers that DO require city or state licensing and monitoring.

Such “social” centers have raised red flags within the health care community, concerned they are glorified entertainment facilities that can ultimately lead to fraud.

A sign outside the New Age center shows the facility offers free meals, door-to-door transportation and movies, and even manicures and pedicures.

Social Centers

After the Medicaid reforms by the Cuomo administration in July to off-load budget drains on the state coffers, social centers were allowed to directly receive contracts with a health insurer’s Managed Longterm Care provider (MLTC), an umbrella health plan directly funded by Medicaid.

These underground adult daycare centers, opening in record numbers since the reforms, have now jumped on the “Medicaid gravy train,” as one unnamed adult daycare provider put it.

They suggested MLTC’s often look at the number of clients before drafting a contract with any center.

Months before New Age opened, staffers reportedly launched an aggressive recruiting campaign, luring as many Medicaid-covered residents as possible, with the promise of hot meals and entertainment.

The adult daycare provider suggested the strength in numbers would draw MLTC providers into drafting contracts with New Age.

The center, situated in the heart of an immigrant-dominated community, officially opened March 7.

Inside on a recent day, large groups of neighbors circled roundtables, others playing dominoes or shooting pool.

There was no indication the club-like facility was at the heart of a federal bribery probe.

Health agencies have now spotted a major spike in the number of these unlicensed centers, particularly in immigrant communities, pointing to why New Age operators Igor and Rostislav Belyansky, Igor Tsimerman and David Binman allegedly asked Stevenson to draft a bill gagging any other centers to open.

Tsimerman and Igor Belyanksy had been accused of fraud two years ago by Allstate Insurance, charging the pair filed more than a million dollars in bogus claims through their unlicensed acupuncture service.

A spokeswoman for the state Office of the Medicaid Inspector General would not confirm or deny the launching of an investigation into the center.

New Age did not respond to repeated requests for comment. On its website, the section on how it admits clients was blacked out.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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