Maine awards new contracts to 3 Medicaid rides brokers; firm at center of controversy loses out

Posted April 24, 2014, at 12:42 p.m.
Last modified April 24, 2014, at 3:33 p.m.
Mary Mayhew, commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.
Contributed photo
Mary Mayhew, commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

AUGUSTA, Maine — One of the companies at the center of a problematic transition for the state’s nonemergency Medicaid ride program will not have its contract renewed, according to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

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

DHHS announced Thursday that it has awarded new contracts to three companies to do the work of matching clients with volunteer drivers and other agencies that deliver MaineCare patients to their doctors and other health care providers and retrieve them. The contracts cover six of the eight regions into which DHHS divides the state for nonemergency ride service.

Two companies that already provide nonemergency services in Maine were among the three that successfully bid for new contracts. They are Logisticare and and Penquis Community Action Programs. The third winning bidder is Waldo Community Action Program.

Logisticare, based in Atlanta, serves York County and parts of southern Oxford County. Its new contract will expand the company’s coverage area to include Cumberland, Androscoggin, Washington, Hancock, Aroostook and Franklin counties. The value of the contracts for the new regions Logisticare will now cover is about $24 million based on DHHS scoresheets.

Penquis Community Action Program, which currently serves Penobscot and Piscataquis counties, will also 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 will serve Lincoln, Knox, Waldo and Sagadahoc counties. 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.

Robert Harrison, Logisticare’s senior vice president for operations, said Thursday the contract award was still tentative, but if it can be made final his company looks forward to expanding its operations in Maine. Harrison said the new work would add “up to three dozen” new employees at its Kennebunk operations center.

“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 transition to a brokered system for delivering rides to medical appointments, therapy and work for sick or disabled MaineCare patients in 2013 was fraught with problems, as thousands complained they were left waiting with no rides.

The controversy seeped into the Legislature and lawmakers this session voted to cancel the CTS 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 underperforming, 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 debate before 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.”

In a news release, DHHS stated 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 Maine.

According to the release, the state made three significant changes in the scope of the work covered by the contracts.

Those changes included additional protections for young children, including the requirement that parents give permission for any mode of transportation to be used; the removal of a provision that limited transportation to pharmacies; and the flexibility for DHHS to consider requests for exceeding 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,’’ said DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew in a prepared statement. “I appreciate the work of those who have been involved in the review and scoring process and look forward to a successful transition of services in each of the regions.”

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

“The brokerage system pays a fixed, contracted rate to the broker to deliver rides to each MaineCare member within its service region,” the release issued Thursday stated. “This system was launched on Aug. 1 in response to concerns of the federal government, which did not approve of the state’s previous way of delivering services and deemed Maine noncompliant with federal rules.”

In 2012, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services voiced its opposition to Maine’s former system in which providers of the rides also served as brokers of the service. Other concerns of CMS included the lack of access to transportation for after-hour appointments, urgent care needs and the availability of transportation modes like wheelchair vans to meet certain medical needs.

CTS, which was informed that the state would not renew any of its contracts when they expire on June 30, submitted bids in all six regions but was not selected, according to the release.

CTS will continue to provide services until its contract expires in June. MaineCare members and providers currently served by CTS should continue to contact them regarding transportation until further notice.

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

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