Be Careful With “Pop Up” Senior Centers in New York

Long-term care is big business. For many years now, companies that work in these fields have grown in size, scope, and influence, emerging as powerful entities making significant profits. There is nothing inherently good or bad about the changing nature of the industry so long quality, affordable options exist for seniors and their families.

Yet, in recent years observers have noticed that the increase in need for senior care services creates a natural business opportunity which are leading to some questionable practices. Take, for example, the growth of “pop up” senior centers in New York. The Brooklyn Eagle recently reported on these facilities and the scrutiny that is being directed their way.

City Council Questioning
The “pop up’ facilities refer to businesses that claim to offer a wide range of caregiving and medical services to seniors in specific areas. As the name implies, these businesses seem to just sprout up suddenly in unused storefront locations. Many argue, however, that unlike traditional senior care options, owners of these pop up entities are simply looking to make a quick buck without much attention to providing comprehensive and quality services.

The problem?

A few member of the New York City Council recently argued that the sole purpose of these pop up centers was to entice unsuspecting seniors to sign up for managed care programs. By doing so, the owners of the facility are able to charge the New York Medicaid program for the services provided–a lucrative piggybank for the facility.

In an an effort to increase their rolls as much as possible, many of these senior centers engage in elaborate marketing targeting specific communities. They often sign up seniors who are completely healthy without an actual need for the aid provided. This is beneficial for the facility but is tantamount to robbing the public. Also, because of the poor quality of services in many locations, some seniors may actually be hurt more than helped.

To correct all of this, two weeks ago legislation was proposed which would increase the public oversight of private programs of this nature. You might be surprised to know that right now these operations do not require registration, certification, or a city/state license. Policymakers want to change that to ensure services provided are both necessary and sufficient quality.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn noted of the situation, “It is outrageous that these so-called ‘pop up’ centers are threatening the wellbeing of our seniors while draining Medicaid resources from legitimate programs for older adults.”

At risk of sounding like a broken record, the best way to prevent a senior from receiving below reasonable services is to do two things: (1) plan ahead for all future elder care needs; (2) ensure due diligence when making selections. An elder law attorney in NY can provide more tailored advice about how to conduct such planning and the best practices when making nursing home or at-home caregiving selections.

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