State announces new contracts for troubled MaineCare ride program

0

AUGUSTA — The state will not renew a contract with a company hired to broker rides for MaineCare patients, according to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

Coordinated Transportation Solutions, a Connecticut-based company that employs about 45 call-center workers in Lewiston, will lose its $28 million contract when it expires June 30. CTS can appeal that decision.

The state contracted with CTS last summer when DHHS changed to a brokered system for delivering sick and disabled MaineCare patients to medical appointments, therapy and work programs. But the transition was fraught with problems as thousands were left waiting for rides.

A tentative new ride broker for the tri-county area, Logisticare, based in Atlanta, already serves York County and parts of southern Oxford County. It has been awarded a new contract to match clients with volunteer drivers and other agencies transporting MaineCare patients to their doctors and other health care providers.

Robert Harrison, Logisticare’s senior vice president for operations, said Thursday the contract was still tentative, in part because CTS may appeal the state’s decision.

But if the Logisticare deal is finalized, the company would add “up to three dozen” employees at its Kennebunk operations center, he said.

“We are excited and we intend to meet and exceed the reasonable standards of service that have been prescribed by Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services,” Harrison said.

The value of the contracts for the new regions Logisticare would cover is about $24 million based on DHHS score sheets. That’s in addition to its existing $5.1 million contract covering Region 8, which includes all of York County and nine towns in southern Oxford County.

As the CTS controversy seeped into the Legislature, lawmakers this session voted to cancel the company’s contract after numerous hearings at which MaineCare patients and their advocates detailed the problems the missed rides were causing.

Gov. Paul LePage vetoed the measure and Republicans sustained the veto, but some lawmakers said the state was the only one getting taken for a ride.

“We had a contract that was consistently under-performing, with people left on the side of the road since July, and we haven’t seen anyone raise the standards of this contract,” Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, who sponsored the bill, said during the veto-override vote. “I realize there’s only a couple months left in the contract, but this type of poor performance should not be rewarded.”

DHHS announced Thursday that it has chosen three providers to broker non-emergency transportation for MaineCare members in six of the state’s eight regions. Two of the companies currently provide non-emergency services in other regions. 

Logisticare will now broker the rides for all MaineCare patients in Franklin, Oxford, Androscoggin, Aroostook, Washington, Hancock, Cumberland and York counties.

The Penquis Community Action Program, which currently serves Penobscot and Piscataquis counties, will also now serve Kennebec and Somerset counties. Penquis’ new contract is valued at $6.4 million for Kennebec and Somerset counties, in addition to its contract for Penobscot and Piscataquis, which is valued at $7.8 million.

Waldo Community Action Program was chosen to serve Lincoln, Knox, Waldo and Sagadahoc counties. Waldo CAP will be paid $3.8 million under its proposed contract.

In a news release, DHHS reported that its latest request for proposals on the brokerage system drew 32 bids from 11 bidders for the six regional contracts.

Each proposal was scored in five areas: Organizational qualifications and experience, scope of work to be performed, bidder’s cost, bidder’s cost narrative to explain the bid’s rationale and economic impact on the state.

According to the release, three significant changes were made in the scope of work that was defined by the state.  

Those changes included additional protections for young children, including the requirement that parents give permission for any mode of transportation to be utilized; the removal of the provision that limited transportation to pharmacies; and the flexibility for DHHS to consider requests to exceed the 25 percent limit on ride delivery by the broker if the broker can demonstrate the need to do so to accommodate trip demand.

“We were pleased that this proposal brought a high level of interest and quality proposals,’’ DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew said in a prepared statement.

The bidders who were not selected have the right to appeal the decision by May 8.

CTS will continue to provide services until its contract expires. MaineCare members and providers currently served by CTS should continue to contact them for transportation until further notice from DHHS. The continuation of the contract until its expiration will allow a smoother transition across the six regions.

“We remain committed to the brokerage model and will do all that we can to minimize any disruption of services for those who rely on these critical services,’’ Mayhew said.

[email protected]

Advertisement