Fulton County officials seeking lawsuit over Medicaid payments

JOHNSTOWN — Fulton County legislators this week authorized a $4,000 base legal retainer to seek litigation against the Fulton Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare to recover past nursing home settlement funds.

A resolution approved by the Board of Supervisors on Monday authorized the retainer with Syracuse-based Bond, Schoeneck & King to obtain Fulton County’s share of “universal settlement” proceeds through formal litigation. Only Johnstown 2nd Ward Supervisor Mike Kinowski was opposed.

Fulton County once owned the former nursing home property on County Highway 122 in the town of Johnstown for several decades. It was last known as the Fulton County Residential Health Care Facility when it was a government facility. It was sold by the county on March 31, 2012 for $3.5 million to private Bronx-based Centers for Specialty Care, which runs Fulton Center.

The resolution notes the county is entitled to funds related to prior Medicaid claims during its ownership of the 176-bed facility.

A resolution was approved by the Board of Supervisors in 2016 authorizing a retainer agreement with Bond, Schoeneck & King. That agreement was to pursue universal settlement funds via “negotiation” with nursing home purchaser Fulton Centers.

“Due to Fulton Centers resisting any settlement agreement, Bond, Schoeneck & King now recommends that Fulton County pursue formal litigation,” the resolution states.

The Board of Supervisors last December was considering legal action, but pulled away from the idea. The board decided in December not to vote on a proposed resolution to authorize a not-to-exceed $20,000 retainer agreement with Bond, Schoeneck & King to pursue nursing home settlement funds.

The new retainer agreement with the law firm is at a base fee of $4,000, plus 20 percent of any proceeds collected. The agreement is subject to approval by Fulton County Attorney Jason Brott.

In other business:

∫ Supervisors established a $600,000 county Planning Department capital project for 2019 for primary electric service at the Tryon Technology Park in Perth.

∫ The board authorized the sale of six surplus file cabinets to the town of Oppenheim. The cost was $5 per cabinet. The equipment was removed from the county’s fixed assets inventory.

∫ A grant agreement was authorized with the state Crime Victims Board for the 2018-19 Victim Assistance Program through the office of Fulton County District Attorney Chad Brown. The board chairman was authorized to sign a contract with the victims board for a total grant of $116,183.

∫The board authorized advertisement for bids for the Fulton County Airport’s runway 10-28 rehabilitation and connector taxiway construction project. The project — the first large one done at the aviation facility in many years — is part of the county’s 2019 capital plan. Bids must be into the county by 2 p.m. April 10, at which time they will be publicly opened.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.