State Senator Says his Legislation Would Have Prevented MaineCare Rides Problems
AUGUSTA – State Senator Ron Collins (R-York) says the current problems the state is experiencing with its MaineCare transportation system could have been avoided if a legislative committee had approved a bill he submitted during the last legislative session.
Senator Collins was the sponsor of LD 710 “Resolve, Requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to Adopt an Alternative MaineCare Nonemergency Transportation System to the Current Risk-based Prepaid Ambulatory Health Plan.” In essence, the bill would have allowed Maine to adopt a system in which the state contracted with local transportation providers to handle non-emergency rides for MaineCare recipients instead of hiring out-of-state companies to provide regional coverage.
The changes were mandated by the Obama Administration in an attempt to gain better control over funding of transportation services nationwide.
Since two out-of-state companies were hired to provide MaineCare transportation last summer, there have been numerous complaints about missed or late pick-ups for patients.
“Much of the blame for the problems with the MaineCare ride program has been directed at the Governor’s Office, Senator Collins said. “But it’s important to note this it was a directive from the federal government that created this mess. Many of my colleagues and I in the Legislature attempted to pass legislation that would have maintained the status quo of a system that was working well.
“The system we had before was working just fine, with few complaints. But then we decided we had to overhaul it because the federal government had complaints about the way states were administering the services. This was an overreaction to a minor problem and now we are paying the price for it. The Obama Administration added a third layer of bureaucracy that was unneeded and has created a dangerous situation here in Maine for those who depend on the services.
“Last spring I pointed out that these two companies that were hired have a history of not fulfilling the requirements of their contracts. But my warnings fell on deaf ears.
“During the legislative hearings, we had collaborative testimony from others who were in full support of my bill and agreed that adding more bureaucracy was not needed when we had a system in Maine that provided these services efficiently.”