January 10

Maine won’t renew medical rides contract with largest broker

Months of problems getting Mainers to their medical appointments spell the end for CTS on June 30, but then it can bid on new deals.

By Steve Mistler smistler@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — Maine will not renew its contracts with the company it hired to arrange rides for MaineCare recipients in most of the state, but the company will still get a chance to continue working for the program.

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Stefanie Nadeau, director of MaineCare Services, responds to legislators’ questions about troubled rides broker CTS during a committee hearing Thursday in Augusta. Nadeau said that even though CTS contracts are not being renewed, the company will be held to high performance standards.

Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

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Sarah Trites of Sabbatus testifies.

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Although Coordinated Transportation Solutions’ contracts will not be renewed when they expire June 30 because of the company’s poor performance, the company “would not be precluded” from bidding on new contracts, Stefanie Nadeau, director of MaineCare Services, said after she testified Thursday before the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee.

She said the company’s performance would be considered in the state’s selection of contractors for the next fiscal year.

Coordinated Transportation Solutions indicated in a news release that it is not sure whether it would bid on the contracts.

Rep. Richard Farnsworth, D-Portland, the committee’s House chair, said he hopes the company will not be seriously considered, because of the many problems it has had arranging rides.

Since the program started Aug. 1, the Portland Press Herald has detailed a range of compliance issues and been contacted by dozens of MaineCare clients who said they have missed rides.

Coordinated Transportation Solutions has six separate contracts, worth a total of $28.3 million, to serve six of eight regions in the state, excluding the Bangor and York County regions.

In October, the state put the company on the equivalent of probation for poor performance, as thousands of Mainers who need transportation to doctors’ offices, physical therapy appointments, dialysis and other treatments missed their rides or got them late.

CTS also had failed to secure a performance bond, as required in the contract. The bond, if revoked by DHHS, would have given the state hundreds of thousands of dollars to help cover the cost of finding a new contractor.

When asked by the Press Herald whether the absence of a performance bond played a role in the state’s decision to let the company complete its current contracts, Nadeau said it was one of many factors.

Nadeau said another reason is that it could take as long as six months to get another broker for the rides. “We were coming up to that time frame anyway,” she said.

Company officials have said they have improved their performance, but Nadeau said that, overall, the rollout of the system did not go well.

“The implementation was extremely unsuccessful,” she said. “We agree that changes need to occur.”

PLEDGE TO KEEP PRESSURE ON CTS

The state’s decision to not renew the contracts follows five months of steady complaints by patients, health care providers and local transportation agencies that have provided the rides.

Legislators expressed concern Thursday that, as a potential lame duck, CTS would not have an incentive to do a good job. “Are they going to backslide in terms of service?” Farnsworth asked.

Nadeau said the company will be held to the performance standards spelled out in the contract. “There will be no backing off of CTS,” she said.

A parade of transportation providers, patients and others told the committee that numerous problems persist.

David White, president of CTS, said in a prepared statement that the company supports the state’s decision to reinstate the bid process. He said his company will continue to develop a compliant transportation model for the rides system.

White said the shift from Maine’s 25-year-old system “has imposed many complications on the lives of MaineCare members, having been met with substantial resistance and unanticipated hurdles.”

He said the company’s experience would produce more realistic contract terms for the broker when the state begins accepting bids. He indicated that last year’s bid did not accurately define the cost and scope of the work.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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Tiphani Paquet of Biddeford testifies.

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Sen. Colleen Lachowicz, D-Waterville

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Rep. Deborah J. Sanderson, R-Chelsea



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