2012-02-10 / Top Stories

Sanders, Locals Condemn Moving Medicaid Office

By Miriam Rosenberg


Councilman James Sanders Jr., center, is joined by his chief of staff, Donovan Richards, and NAACP Rockaway branch president Ed Williams in condemning the recent move of the Rockaway Medicaid Office to Long Island City. Photo(s) by Miriam Rosenberg. Councilman James Sanders Jr., center, is joined by his chief of staff, Donovan Richards, and NAACP Rockaway branch president Ed Williams in condemning the recent move of the Rockaway Medicaid Office to Long Island City. Photo(s) by Miriam Rosenberg. In a show of defiance concerning the decision to move Rockaway’s Medicaid office from Beach 59 Street to Long Island City, political and local leaders came out last week to question the reasoning behind the sudden move that occurred late last year.

Standing in front of the entrance to the Human Resources Administration building that once housed Medicaid, Councilman James Sanders Jr. led a press conference and rally to call attention to “government abandonment” of the Rockaways.

“Who are the master minds here?” asked Sanders on February 2. “Why are we having these great ideas?”

He continued, “If we are concerned with our most vulnerable population then we will not move it, the Medicaid office, from one end of the earth to the other. [Long Island City is] as far away from the Rockaways as you can get and still be in Queens.” Joining Sanders was Ed Williams, the president of the local NAACP.


A representative of the Human Resources Administration takes notes during the press conference/rally. A representative of the Human Resources Administration takes notes during the press conference/rally. “This Far Rockaway office is critical in terms of accessibility, in particular, to the special needs population and our people on fixed incomes,” said Williams.

He added, “Given the insurmountable problems daily that our recipients encounter that requires them to come to this office to get resolved, we now have someone telling us we’ve got to travel to Long Island City the best way we can. We’re here to say, hell no!”

Elaine Short spoke not only as the director of Lucille Rose Daycare Center, but as a grandmother of a special needs child.

“My daughter cannot afford to leave here to go all the way to Long Island City with a special needs child,” said Short. She added, “We have children who are handicapped. It shows there was no concern for the people in this community. …It’s appalling and it’s sad that we weren’t taken into consideration to give us any type of notice, any type of warning.” Lisa Paul, a resident, said the “Medicaid office is not just for people who are not working, it is for people who are working.”

One individual she knows, who works in a nearby laundromat, “was able to get Medicaid because he took a lunch break and came to the Medicaid office,” said Paul. “What is that person supposed to do when the Medicaid office is no longer here?

“We’re asking, and we’re calling on, people who can make a difference for people who need them to speak out for them.”

Sanders was asked if he believed they could get HRA to bring the Medicaid office back to Beach 59 Street.

“We understand that it’s the size of the fight,” said Sanders. “The more of a fight we put [up] the more possible a thing is. The less we fight the more it doesn’t happen.”

Sanders, despite what HRA told The Wave last month, reaffirmed that he was never notified of the intention of HRA to move the Medicaid office off of the peninsula.

“I was never notified,” said Sanders, as a representative of the HRA stood to the side taking notes. He added, “[They] certainly never contacted me or my office. We certainly would not agree that we would sit by and let something for the Rockaways go to Long Island City.”

Redina Esaw, a caseworker at JASA on Beach 19 Street, said, “We didn’t get any advance notice.” She added, “It’s a shame, because the seniors, as it is now … where they have to go it’s out of the way. It’s a hardship.”

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