December 27, 2013

Bill to replace troubled MaineCare rides system faces uphill fight

The plan to put local groups back in charge would need Republican support to survive a possible LePage veto.

By Joe Lawlor
Staff Writer

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Sen. Colleen Lachowicz

LePage’s comments drew criticism from Democrats, who noted that waiting for renewal time in August would mean that Coordinated Transportation Solutions would be on the job for another eight months.

Another bill up for consideration would simply cancel the company’s contracts.

Farnsworth said that measure is helpful but wouldn’t address the root of the problem, which is a system that adds a layer of bureaucracy.

Lachowicz said she looked to Vermont’s system this summer as she anticipated the problems.

“I looked to a state that was like us, rural and relying on volunteer drivers,” she said. “They’re like us, and their rides program is working.”

Trish Riley, who worked for the DHHS under Democratic administrations as director of public health policy, said there’s no doubt that the system is having problems, but she questions whether it’s the Legislature’s role to force-feed a solution to the executive branch.

“It is beyond the oversight role of the Legislature, and gets into the Legislature operating the department,” Riley said. “It is an executive function to administer contracts.”

Legislators who back the bill dispute that view and say the MaineCare rides program is an extraordinary circumstance.

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

Twitter: @joelawlorph

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