LocalSYR

Lawmakers vow to make change in response to contracting with criminals investigation

A Fayetteville family in need of a downstairs bathroom properly equipped for their twin sons with duchenne muscular dystrophy turned to Medicaid only to have the necessary work remain undone for months and months.
Contractor hired by Medicaid leaves family's bathroom undone.
Contractor hired by Medicaid leaves family's bathroom undone.
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - State politicians are taking action in response to the News Channel 9 investigation: "Contracting with Criminals."

State Senator John DeFrancisco proposed a bill to strengthen background checks on applicants bidding for Medicaid Waiver Program projects.

"It seems to me that if the state is paying money to get certain construction work done, they ought to make sure it gets done right," said DeFrancisco. "They ought to make sure the individuals who are doing it are capable and do not have criminal backgrounds or do not have cases of fraud in the past in this type of area to get the best bang for the buck." 

The bill has been referred to the Senate Health Committee.

DeFrancisco expects the bill to be discussed in April, after budget talks.
A NewsChannel 9 Investigation: Contracting with criminals 2/5/13

Fayetteville (WSYR-TV) - A Fayetteville family in need of a downstairs bathroom properly equipped for their twin sons with duchenne muscular dystrophy turned to Medicaid only to have the necessary work remain undone for months.

In the process, the Willis family has found what some lawmakers believe is a large and costly flaw in the system.

The contractor hired by Onondaga County and the state's Medicaid Care at Home program was supposed to finish the bathroom months ago.

According to the contract he signed in August, Jeff DeVeau promised to complete the project in a week or less, once the necessarily items were ordered. Instead, months went by and the work remained undone.

Alison Willis discovered that DeVeau had a criminal history, having pleaded guilty to fraud after a scheme involving construction equipment.

Now, Senator David Valesky says he is working with the Attorney General's office who is investigating this situation. He told NewsChannel 9: "I will do whatever I can to make sure this obvious flaw in the system is corrected so other families don't have to go through what the Willis Family had to endure."

And former Assemblyman Don Miller said he introduced legislation two years ago that would have required New York State to take on the responsibility for all Medicaid spending.

“Get the counties out of that business and in the process review every mandate – including Medicaid – for effectiveness and efficiency and that would include vendor lists,” he said.

He says the bill never made it out of the ways and means committee at the time.

After declining to respond to calls from NewsChannel 9 for some time, we spoke with DeVeau the day after the story aired.

He told NewsChannel 9 that he had cancer in September, which delayed the project.

DeVeau also said that he would have completed the project if Alison Willis hadn’t dismissed him upon discovering his criminal background.

“Had she not kicked me out, I would have finished the project,” he said.

The director of ENABLE, the agency charged with the Willis bathroom project, said she plans to speak with the organization’s financiers about updating their vetting process for vendors.
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