Mainers frustrated with MaineCare ride system
New federal rules and new contractors have added up to complaints and frustration for those who use MaineCare-funded rides for non-emergency medical appointments. The Portland Press Herald has been following the issue.
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WHAT MAINECARE RIDERS HAVE TO SAY:
PAMELA TARDIFF, OF AUGUSTA,
said she is paralyzed and has missed two doctor’
appointments that she needs to help evaluate her condition.
She worries that if a ride does show up it will be a car rather
than a lift van she needs for transportation. “You can’t take this
heavy chair, fold it up and put it in the back seat,” Tardiff said.
LYNNE RICHMOND, 68, OF AUGUSTA,
said her MaineCare rides failed to show two Fridays in a
row and she had to call taxis to make it to her appointments.
“I never know when I’m going to be picked up to go to the
Cohen Center or anything. I’d like to have it work like it
did before,” Richmond said.
JUDITH MITCHELL, 64, OF WINSLOW,
has had difficulties arranging for transportation under
MaineCare to get treatment for her vision problems. She has
had 14 operations on her eye since 1990, in hopes of saving
what remains of her vision. She can now only see some
shadows and movements. “It’s the difference between me
having an eye and not having an eye,” Mitchell said.
REBECCA LEE, 27, OF KENNEBUNK,
missed a few appointments for her neurological therapy
in Portland because of logistical problems with MaineCare
rides. Her mom, Pam Lee, said Rebecca has come a long way
with her treatments, but she needs to continue therapy to
improve how her brain functions.
VALERIE ENOS, OF FREEPORT,
said she missed chiropractor appointments to treat fibromyalgia
and other medical problems. “I have a very delicate system,” Enos
said. “I have anxiety issues. I thought my anxiety was under control,
but when something like this happens it comes back.”
HAZEL CLARKE, OF WESTBROOK,
said she has been unable to arrange a ride because she’s been
put on hold for hours at a time when she tries to call MaineCare.
Shesaid she needs to go for treatment that helps control her
Tourette’s syndrome. “I need to go to my appointments or I could
pass out,” Clarke said.
JESSICA CUST, OF READFIELD,
who suffers from anxiety, said that when she calls for an appointment, it takes so long and it’s so difficult that
she ends her phone call in tears. She said she’s better off than many who have similar conditions. “I don’t know
how other people can handle this. Some people, if you interrupt their schedule, they’ll have a full-blown panic
attack,” Cust said.