Gov. Baldacci’s human services transportation budget cut will leave the elderly and children in rural areas without transportation to vital health care, educational and social service appointments.

Gov. Baldacci’s $600,000 cut in the MaineCare Transportation Budget and the subsequent loss of $1.2 million in matching federal funds will be the most devastating to those who live in rural areas and rely on nonprofit transportation agencies to get to more populated towns where services exist.

In rural communities the options are frequently limited to regional full service transportation providers. There is nothing else available. The logistics and cost of providing transportation in rural areas discourage private enterprise from setting up shop outside of the service areas.

The cuts in the MaineCare budget create a financial strain on the nonprofit provider that may force them to pull off the road.

In Western Maine, Western Maine Transportation Services and Community Concepts Transportation provide MaineCare and Department of Human Services transportation through a network of agency vehicles, public transportation services and volunteer drivers. Both agencies have stated that the cut may cause them to close up shop.

The reductions in funding will impact rides for 40,000 children, elderly and disabled Maine citizens and prevent them from accessing critical services including dialysis, child care, mental health, cancer treatments and other critical services.

A window of opportunity exists when the Legislature reviews and approves a supplemental budget. I am the director of community relations at Western Maine Transportation Services and I know we need MaineCare transportation.

Glenn Gordon, Hanover

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