Volunteer drivers for Waupaca County learned that they may no longer be driving for the county but for a private company.
At a transportation summit Thursday, April 14, Greg DiMiceli, a state Medicaid transportation analyst, and Robert Harrison, an operations director with Atlanta-based LogistiCare Solutions, explained how the state of Wisconsin has contracted with a private company to manage nonemergency medical transportation for Wisconsin’s Medicaid program.
Currently, the local NEMT program is run by the Aging and Disability Resource Center. In addition to providing rides to Medicaid-related medical appointments, the approximately 35 volunteer drivers for the county give rides to the senior nutrition centers and to the Waupaca County Industries work sites.
In 2009, volunteer drivers logged nearly 150,000 miles and donated more than 5,800 hours of service. About three-quarters of the rides provided to Waupaca residents fall under the NEMT system, according to Nancy Ferg, the county’s volunteer driver coordinator.
Due to a law enacted last year, the state has agreed to contract its NEMT services for Medicaid recipients to LogistiCare for all 72 counties.
Beginning July 1, all calls for rides will no longer be to a local phone number but to a customer service center in Madison.
“This is an opportunity for the state to retool an operation in an effort to save taxpayers money,” according to DiMiceli.
Under Wisconsin’s current system, the federal government reimburses the state 50 percent of its Medicaid-related transportation costs. Under the new system, the state will be reimbursed about 60 percent of its costs.
DiMiceli said one of the advantages of using LogistiCare is that the company will be able to provide specialized medical vehicles in areas where there are no available services for those in wheelchairs or who need stretchers.
“I have a lot of counties where there are gaps in service due to a lack of coordination and flexibility,” DiMiceli said.
DiMiceli said the sate has signed a three-year contract with LogistiCare that sets a per capita fee for the service.
Harrison said that LogistiCare will screen all requests for transportation and determine if they are eligible for the service.
Both DiMiceli and Harrison said the service is for only those Medicaid and BadgerCare recipients who cannot drive themselves or find a relative or neighbor to drive them to their medical appointments.
Volunteer drivers who are now transporting Medicaid recipients to medical appointments will need to contract through LogistiCare. The company will also be responsible for scheduling all drivers and paying their mileage claims.
Harrison told the volunteer drivers at the April 14 summit that they will need to take defensive driving training, undergo drug screenings, and have a criminal and driving record background check. The volunteer drivers, who are unpaid but reimbursed for mileage at the rate approved by the Internal Revenue Service, will be required to pay the costs of the tests, training and background checks themselves.
The volunteers, most of whom are retired, would also be required to either have a fax machine or Internet access in order to obtain schedules and process reimbursement claims.
Several of the volunteer drivers at the summit expressed concern about the new system, noting that they have built long-term relationships with the people they drive several times weekly to dialysis appointments or doctor visits.