Politics

December 9, 2013

Taxis taking more calls for troubled MaineCare rides broker

Details emerge about the plan to improve service, but questions remain and a state evaluation is ongoing.

By Joe Lawlor jlawlor@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

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

Morning Sentinel file photo/Michael G. Seamans

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According to the Corrective Action Plan, CTS may soon ask its nonprofit partners to shoulder more of the workload.

The plan seems to indicate that CTS will ask transportation providers to take on some scheduling and dispatching duties being performed by CTS, and to notify patients if vehicles are running late or will not arrive for an appointment.

Farnsworth asked why, if more work is dumped on the nonprofits, should the state be paying CTS $28.3 million.

DeBerardinis said that while CTS is so far not asking RTP to schedule rides, the system is inefficient and a lot of staff time is required to make it work.

“This has been far more staff-intensive than we ever imagined,” DeBerardinis said. His agency had to lay off dispatchers when CTS took over on Aug. 1.

Dan Donovan, executive director of the Aroostook Regional Transportation System, said that it’s already taking a lot of staff time, although CTS has not given the system more duties recently.

“We’re doing more work than we expected we would have to be doing,” Donovan said.

Dodge of Windham Taxi said he’s noticed fewer riders are complaining.

“It’s going really well,” Dodge said. “CTS is slowly but surely putting things back together again. They’re getting the right drivers out there, and I think CTS is doing a pretty good job.”

The action plan also said that CTS could require underperforming transportation providers to submit a corrective action plan to CTS.

Donovan said if CTS tried to require his organization to submit such a plan, there’s a “fat chance” it would comply with such an order.

The CTS action plan pointed to faulty data provided by the state and not having enough drivers and workers as some of the reasons for the troubled program. In addition to bringing the taxi companies on board, CTS hired more employees for its Lewiston call center.

The state vastly underestimated the number of wheelchair rides needed, according to the plan. The wheelchair rides require specialized vans for transportation, which are not as easy to come by.

Martins wrote that part of the problem with the previous system was the lack of data collected on rides, which made it difficult to predict how many rides were needed.

While the state selected the regional broker system, the federal government gives states wide latitude in devising systems to comply with new federal rules designed to cut back on the potential for fraud and abuse. In January, the Legislature will consider a bill that would force DHHS to switch to a Vermont-style system. Vermont satisfied federal requirements but maintained a system that relies on local nonprofits arranging and delivering rides, similar to Maine’s system before the Aug. 1 change.

The CTS plan also touted the reduction in calls to its complaint line from August, when 3,667 calls came in. In September, 1,299 calls were made to the CTS complaint line. Some critics have said that people are giving up and not bothering to complain any more.

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

jlawlor@pressherald.com

Twitter: @joelawlorph

 

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