Mehlman, Steve

Steve Mehlman is Communications Director of the 65,000-member UDW Homecare Providers Union, California's only union made up entirely of homecare workers.

Another County Overreacts to the IHSS Fraud Non-Epidemic

By Steve Mehlman

Not wishing to be overshadowed by the aggressive anti-fraud tactics in Stanislaus County  (California’s War on the Elderly and Disabled: A Dispatch from the Front Lines) Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully is publicizing the exploits of her own “fraud squad” in the struggle against what she claims is “massive fraud” in the In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program.

In a breathless announcement to the County Board of Supervisors, Ms. Scully’s team proclaimed that her anti-fraud Task Force has been responsible for criminal cases against 60 defendants for about $780,000 in fraud in the past year. “There are many opportunities for fraud in this program,” declared Deputy D.A. Laura West. She claimed that the Task Force, as well as other factors, has helped save the county about $1.1 million in local funds.

Supervisor Roger Dickinson, for one, was not impressed.

California’s War on the Elderly and Disabled: A Dispatch from the Front Lines

By Steve Mehlman

“Backed by anxious supporters, some on crutches or in wheelchairs, nearly two-dozen passionate speakers on Tuesday railed against "Gestapo" tactics of Stanislaus County home care fraud investigators…” Modesto Bee, Sept. 1, 2010

A flawed and mean-spirited attack by right-wing ideologues on some of California’s most vulnerable citizens has begun to sprout poisoned fruit in California’s Central Valley.

Using some of the millions of dollars distributed by the Schwarzenegger Administration in the name of fighting fraud in the In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program, Stanislaus County earlier this year created a Special Investigations Unit.

State Plans to Spend Millions to Photograph In-Home Supportive Service Consumers Despite Lack of Authority, Proof

By Steve Mehlman
UDW Homecare Providers Union

Without any authority from the Legislature, the Schwarzenegger Administration is planning to purchase up to $5 million worth of military/security cameras to take pictures of the 450,000 seniors and people with disabilities who receive In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) homecare. 

Last year, the Legislature approved the administration’s proposal that county social workers must fingerprint all IHSS consumers as part of a so-called anti-fraud initiative. However, the Legislature neither discussed nor approved photographing consumers. Nor has the administration provided any evidence of how much fraud would be stopped by photographing and fingerprinting these consumers; all IHSS consumers must be visited and assessed at home by county social workers before being approved for the program.  

How Low We've Sunk

By Steve Mehlman
UDW Homecare Providers Union

A homecare provider from San Diego told legislators yesterday how she and her client--a quadriplegic Vietnam veteran--were threatened and harrassed by a fraud investigator from the state.

Nancy Jo Riley of San Diego testified that she and her client were "randomly selected" for a fraud investigation last October as part of a new "anti-fraud" initiative by the state. According to Ms. Riley, the agent from the Department of Health Care Services (DCHS) first threatened in a phone call to cut off all IHSS unless she and her client met with him immediately.

At the subsequent meeting, the investigator asked her and her client a long series of "humiliating" questions. He then said he could not understand why a person with a severe disability like his should be subject to a fraud investigation in the first place.  

Compassion? Only Some Of The Time.

By Steve Mehlman, UDW Homecare Providers Union

In case you missed it, link here to read the heartwarming story of Sara Granda, who was paralyzed from the neck down in an auto accident in 1997, but has gone on to get three college degrees and has just passed the State Bar Exam.

Gov. Schwarzenegger should be commended for going to bat for Sara so she could take the bar exam.

But down in San Diego, it’s a different story for Michael, who’s also a quadriplegic.  Michael recently received a phone message from a fraud investigator from the Department of Health Care Services. He was told that if he didn’t contact the investigator immediately, he would lose his IHSS home care services. He complied. In a subsequent meeting, the investigator said he had no idea why someone like Michael would be targeted for a fraud investigation.