A nursing home based in Jamaica, Queens will be sold by its non-profit owners to a group of for-profit companies for $41 million, Crain’s reported last week. The home, Margaret Tietz Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, will be sold to several limited liability companies, whose owners include Workmen’s Circle Multicare Chief Executive Solomon Rutenberg, and Cassena Care heads Pasquale DeBenedictis and Alex Solovey.
The Margaret Tietz home is one of several properties being sold by its current owner, the Bronx-based CenterLight Health System, in order to pay off $47 million owed to the state and federal government as part of a 2016 agreement to settle charges of Medicaid fraud. According to Crain’s, other properties sold off by CenterLight include the Beth Abraham center in the Bronx, and Westchester’s Martine Center, which was sold to Centers Health Care for $77.8 million.
According to a 2016 Health Care Finance News report, CenterLight was ordered to pay the $47 million for fraudulently billing Medicaid for services it did not provide, after Center Light enrolled over 1,000 adult day care Medicaid beneficiaries in a long-term care plan despite being ineligible for long-term care under the plan. $28 million of the fine would be allocated towards Medicaid, while the remaining $18 million would go to the federal government, according to an announcement at the time by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
“It’s simple: CenterLight Health Care did not play by the rules,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. “We won’t tolerate companies that seek to exploit the system for profit. My office will continue to be vigilant in protecting Medicaid against fraud.”
New York State has not yet approved CenterLight’s sale of the Margaret Tietz center, which is divided between $2.5 million for operations and $38.5 million for real estate. Following the sale of the Margaret Tietz Center, CenterLight’s last remaining nursing home would be the Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Brooklyn.
On Idealist.org, CenterLight describes itself as “one of the oldest non profit comprehensive healthcare organizations in the United States,” and “a premier provider of home and community based healthcare and services in the New York metropolitan area, serving all five boroughs of New York City, as well as Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk Counties.”
The organization also says it offers “comprehensive healthcare and other services that enrich the lives of our participants and let them live safely at home and in their communities. Each day, our employees serve a richly diverse population of thousands of participants, speaking more than 75 languages and dialects throughout our 14 facilities.”
By: Menachem Rephun