September 9, 2013

Missed MaineCare rides drive health agency losses

Clients who don't show up for medical appointments cost health care providers both time and money.

By MATT HONGOLTZ-HETLING Morning Sentinel

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Mark Goggins stands next to his KVCAP bus in Waterville on Friday. KVCAP used to provide between 900 and 1,000 rides a day to MaineCare patients.

Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

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Gordon Smith, executive vice president of the Maine Medical Association, said doctors are used to dealing with patient no-shows, sometimes by overscheduling their day because they know a certain percentage of patients won't show up.

Smith said the problems the system is causing for patients is paramount.

He said patients living in poverty or dealing with social or mental issues are already more likely to miss appointments, and that the ride issue compounds the problem.

Jim Wood, the transportation director at Kennebec Valley Community Action Program, said Coordinated Transportation Solutions has given assurances that they are working through the problems, but that now there are continued data-transmission issues that result in patients not getting rides.

Wood said the community action program gets about the same number of referrals it always has -- about 900 to 1,000 per day -- but that it is only able to complete about 750 rides per day. Before the transition on Aug. 1, he said, nearly all of the referrals would result in rides.

There have been times when the program has given a patient in need a ride in good faith, only to find out that the patient's ride was actually scheduled through a local cab company, he said.

CONTINUED IMPACT

Patients continue to report issues with the program.

Carol Penney, a 69-year-old from Waterville who sees her providers regularly, said she has missed several appointments because rides she has tried to schedule have not materialized.

"They never show up," she said. "I'm ready to commit suicide. That's how I feel. What am I supposed to do?"

Donna Cantone, a resident of Augusta, sees a doctor between six and eight times a month for various reasons.

"Tonight I have an MRI in Augusta because they feel that I've torn some muscles in my right shoulder, which could mean surgery," she said.

Unlike many MaineCare clients, Cantone drives herself to her appointments, for which she is reimbursed at a rate of 24 cents per mile.

Cantone said the paperwork, which requires everything from her driver's license number to information only her doctor can provide, has been a major obstacle for her. She said the problem is not being resolved quickly enough for the patients who are suffering immediate and ongoing harm.

"What's going to happen to us?" she said.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling can be contacted at 861-9287 or at:

mhhetling@mainetoday.com

 

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