03 Jan Report on Medical Assistance Transportation Program change …
New report says proposed change to transportation program for Medicaid-related medical appointments could confuse, frustrate riders
A new report on a proposed change to the state program providing rides to Medicaid-related appointments says most users are poor and older, making them especially “sensitive” to changes in the operating model.
The report issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services on the potential impact of implementing a regional broker model for its Medical Assistance Transportation Program concluded that MATP riders “are a mix of low-income, medically needy and aged populations who are sensitive to disruption to care.”
The report is available at dhs.pa.gov. If the broker model is ultimately approved, DHS said it would vital “to have measures in place to ensure a successful transition” for these riders.
“The Medical Assistance Transportation Program is a vital resource for people who would otherwise not be able to access transportation to their physician, dentist or other necessary services,” DHS Secretary Teresa Miller said in a statement.
“We want to be sure we are choosing the correct path forward so we can guarantee MATP’s sustainability and consistency for years to come,” Miller said.
The report’s release comes just two weeks after Miller and other state agency leaders announced that possible implementation of a broker model would be stalled for at least 18 months following an outcry from legislators and local officials, according to PennCapital-Star.com.
DHS runs the MATP, but it has been administered locally by the Beaver County Transit Authority since 1983. BCTA coordinates rides under the DART program and also subcontracts with Medic Rescue for certain services, such as after-hours and out-of-county rides, BCTA general manager Mary Jo Morandini told The Times in April.
At that time, Morandini said, based on the results of other states implementing a broker model, the results “are devastating to the transit agencies and the patrons who truly need service.”
A broker model has been used in Philadelphia since 2005 while most of the 66 other counties use an in-house or county model, according to DHS.
The DHS report says total costs and savings “cannot fully be quantified” at this point because there are “too many tangential impacts and downstream effects” associated with changing to a broker model, such as employment-related losses and medical cost increases.
A broker model could also lead to higher fares, reduced hours and smaller service areas, the report says, and riders could become confused and frustrated by new phone numbers, vehicles and drivers.
“The impact of a change on consumers should be a focus of decision-makers when evaluating a switch to a broker model,” the report says. “Survey and consumer complaint results from various periods and sources indicate generally high satisfaction levels with the current MATP.”
The report concluded that the state’s MATP is “respectable,” but that DHS has concerns about its “long-term viability” and that the broker model could be one solution.
Morandini warned in April that changing to the broker model would hurt DART, which provides 77,000 passenger trips annually, and Medic Rescue, which relies on MATP rides for half of its business.
The change was slipped into fiscal legislation in 2018 in an effort to supposedly save $15 million annually.