Augusta - A bill to address the Department of Health and Human Services’ mismanagement of the MaineCare rides program won initial House approval by a vote of 86-56 on Tuesday.
LD 1663 , “Resolve, To Require New Contracts for MaineCare Nonemergency Transportation,” would prevent DHHS from renewing the failed contracts with the present brokers of the current, failed MaineCare rides system.
“We have a governor who just doesn’t know how to manage contracts, despite his claims of business expertise,” said Rep. Dick Farnsworth, D-Portland, the House chairs of the Health and Human Services Committee. “His administration has thrown good money after bad, even after Mainers – some of our state’s most vulnerable – missed thousands of appointments because of this debacle.”
Over the summer, the administration made significant changes to the rides program, which 45,000 people depend on for transportation to dialysis, mental health services and other kinds of appointments. The ensuring problems include thousands of missed appointments because callers couldn’t get through on the phone to arrange rides or because drivers didn’t show up.
“The department erred every step of the way,” said Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook, a member of the HHS committee. “They moved forward with a flawed procurement process, failed to properly vet bidders and ignored basic principles of project management. The Mainers this program is supposed to serve suffered as a result and, at times, were even put at risk of physical harm.”
Coordinated Transportation Solutions, which has a $23.8 million dollar contract with the state, has been the most problematic. CTS was supposed to get a performance bond to make sure taxpayers aren’t on the hook if its work fails to meet standards, but the administration failed to secure this basic requirement.
DHHS recently paid an additional $1.2 million to CTS in spite of ongoing criticism for poor performance. The administration has yet to explain the extra payment.
The bill faces additional action in the Senate and House.
The LePage’s administration’s failure with the MaineCare rides program is one example of the chronic mismanagement that has left Maine with a constant budget shortfall, a loss in certification and federal funding for the Riverview Psychiatric Center, a CDC document shredding scandal and one of the worst records on private sector job growth in the country.
Ann Kim | Communications Director
Maine State House Majority Office
2 State House Station
Augusta, Maine 04333-0002
Phone: 207-287-1488 | Cell: 207-233-1838