Disabled adults missing MaineCare rides

10:06 PM, Aug 9, 2013   |    comments
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FARMINGTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Complaints from MaineCare recipients have been mounting since August 1, when the state changed contracts with transportation brokers for MaineCare-funded rides.

A new company, Connecticut-based Coordinated Transportation Solutions, oversees the transportation for non-emergency MaineCare clients in much of the state, including Franklin County.

The switch has caused transportation issues for disabled adults in the Farmington area, according to Linda LaRue-Keniston, Executive Director of Work First Inc.

Her nonprofit helps disabled adults find employment. LaRue-Keniston said about 67 of her clients rely on MaineCare-funded rides to and from work, and since August 1, 10-15 clients per day have not received their rides.

"The consistency that they need has been disrupted," she said. "It's really causing some behaviors and some real difficult times for these folks."

One issue, she said, is that volunteer drivers are being paid less for their services.

It used to be that drivers were paid for round trips. Now, they are only being paid when a client is in the vehicle with them.

It's become too costly for some drivers in rural areas, who would now have to travel 30 miles without reimbursement, LaRue-Keniston said.

According to Rep. Tom Saviello, R-Wilton, the pay change is in compliance with a federal mandate.

The Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services made the occupied vehicle rule years ago, and Maine hadn't been complying with it.

Saviello said if the state did not change the pay, they could be fined.

He said since the pay change, 30 percent of MaineCare volunteer drivers have quit.

"That's what's gotten us into this dilemma," said Saviello. "No one expected that 30 percent, so we're going to try and work through that."

According to a statement by Coordinated Transportation Solutions, the company is in the process of hiring additional staff to field the volume of phone calls coming in from MaineCare clients.



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