MaineCare rides broker to get millions more in final months
Connecticut-based Coordinated Transportation Solutions, whose contracts end this summer, already received about $2.6 million in extra payments in February and April. It likely will continue getting extra payments at least through June, according to state records obtained by the Portland Press Herald through a Freedom of Access Act request.
If those payments for May and June are similar to the earlier payments, the state will give an estimated $2.5 million extra to the company. That means Coordinated Transportation Solutions would collect about $5 million on top of the $28.3 million called for in its six contracts to arrange rides in most of Maine.
“I think this is absolutely terrible,” said Lynne Richmond, 69, of Augusta, who uses the MaineCare rides program and said she had to give up going to the chiropractor after missing so many rides because of CTS. “They haven’t done anything to deserve it.”
Since Aug. 1, when Maine began a new regional broker system, thousands of low-income Mainers have missed rides. Coordinated Transportation Solutions, which covers all but the Bangor and York County regions, was cited by Maine officials for having the worst problems of the three brokers. The company lost out on future work because of its poor performance, according to an evaluation by the state Department of Health and Human Services.
Contract amendments obtained by the Press Herald show changes to the formulas for paying CTS. Although no bottom-line figure is provided, the changes for May and June are similar to the formula changes made for February and April.
State officials have repeatedly declined to answer detailed questions about the extra payments. CTS complained last fall that the state had underestimated the workload when it detailed the work that contractors could bid on.
Company officials couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.
John Martins, spokesman for the DHHS, wrote in an email response to questions that the company’s volunteer network and the state’s need to make a smooth transition to new contractors were reasons for the extra payments.
“Coordinated Transportation Solutions’ payments were adjusted to support and sustain the volunteer network over the six regions they serve in order to ensure the delivery of the maximum number of rides to MaineCare clients while the department prepared to select a broker for these six regions and to transition services,” Martins wrote.
Martins also wrote that the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services required the extra payments, although he did not respond to follow-up questions or provide documentation for that claim.
“The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) must approve the pay range for services rendered and payments were adjusted upward to fall within CMS’ approved range,” Martins wrote.
Democratic lawmakers said they doubt that the federal government would require the extra payments, because federal officials typically give states wide latitude in providing Medicaid services.
“That’s the fall-back position by DHHS: ‘Let’s just blame the feds again. The feds made me do it,’ ” said Rep. Richard Farnsworth, D-Portland, a co-chair of the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee.
The federal agency gave states flexibility in devising Medicaid transportation systems to comply with new accountability guidelines to prevent fraud. Some states, including New Hampshire, maintained locally controlled networks to arrange and give rides. Maine and many other states selected a regional broker system, in which brokers arrange rides while local nonprofits provide them.
Lawmakers have pointed out that CTS has frequently used taxi service rather than volunteers, driving up costs. The local nonprofit transportation companies that ran the service before Aug. 1 almost always used volunteers.
The state has planned to have Atlanta-based LogistiCare and local nonprofits take over the Connecticut broker’s regions July 1, but lawmakers said Wednesday that they believe the handoff has been delayed until Aug. 1.
Mary Lou Dyer, managing director of the Maine Association for Community Service Providers, said many medical service providers, such as day camps for adults and children with disabilities, are losing money while CTS keeps making more money despite its service problems. If someone doesn’t show up for an appointment, the provider can’t bill Medicaid for services.
“It’s like Maine keeps throwing money down a rat hole,” Dyer said.
Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook, said he has been asking for an explanation for the extra payments for months.
“It’s very disappointing,” he said. “All this does is raise more questions.”
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