Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Pressure on drivers puts Medicaid passengers in peril

By Johnny Edwards and Anastaciah Ondieki - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The state pays LogistiCare tens of millions of taxpayer dollars a year to make sure frail and elderly Medicaid patients get to their doctors safely and on time.

The privatized system is structured so the contractor sets its own rates with subcontractors — the mom-and-pop van companies that push wheelchairs, carry stretchers, lock safety restraints and navigate traffic. LogistiCare keeps more if the subcontractors are paid less.

Struggling to stay afloat, some of those companies can face pressures to run as many rides as possible, as quickly as possible, using drivers who earn barely above minimum wage.

That can imperil the vulnerable patients the system is designed to serve, an investigation by The Atlanta Journal Constitution found.

The newspaper found repeated failures to pick up passengers on time, sometimes causing them to miss crucial appointments or leaving them stranded for hours after their treatment is complete. Some companies run vehicles that are more than 15 years old, with hundreds of thousands of miles on their odometers. The AJC’s review of complaints lodged with LogistiCare found that mechanical problems have put patients at risk.

One man suffered repeated seizures after being seated in the back of a van with broken air conditioning. Another patient was seriously injured when a cab with thread-bare tires spun out of control on black ice and went off the roadway.


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