January 17

Reform of troubled MaineCare ride system on horizon

DHHS officials and nonprofit agencies say a change to a key contract rule could help end the months of missed medical appointments.

By Joe Lawlor jlawlor@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Stefanie Nadeau, head of MaineCare Services, says the potential ride system solution could be done without law changes or getting a federal OK.

Andy Molloy/2013 Kennebec Journal file

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Cindy Dow is lifted into a KV CAP bus in October at her Augusta home for a ride to a medical appointment. The troubled MaineCare rides system could be on the brink of a solution, lawmakers said.

2013 Kennebec Journal File Photo/Andy Molloy

Nadeau said the DHHS and the transportation providers still have to discuss the details, but she doesn’t see why the state would have any objection to adding bidding preferences for Maine agencies.

The only in-state contractor in the program now, Penquis in the Bangor region, is serving the only part of the state where patients have not complained en masse about a lack of service. Penquis officials have said the transition was seamless for them because they had run the program for many years.

DELIGHT THAT SOLUTION MAY BE NEAR

Nancee Campbell of Augusta, who uses the program, said the rides arranged by Coordinated Transportation Solutions have not been consistent, and the change would be welcome.

“Finally, DHHS is looking seriously at having local agencies give the rides to local people. I’m delighted,” Campbell said.

Wood said another major problem that arose when the system started in August – smaller mileage reimbursements for volunteer drivers – has largely been fixed with workarounds devised by the ride brokers and local transportation providers.

But Wood said the separate ride brokers still add a layer of unneeded bureaucracy. If local providers get the contracts, he said, that layer will disappear.

The committee voted to table the bill to scrap the current system to determine whether the potential solution would satisfy all parties.

“We are hearing what sounds like success,” said Margaret Craven, D-Lewiston, the committee’s Senate chair. “That sounds very nice.”

Joe Lawlor can be contacted at 791-6376 or at:

jlawlor@pressherald.com

Twitter: @joelawlorph

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