AUGUSTA — State officials announced last week they will not renew the contract of the Connecticut-based company charged with coordinating rides to medical appointments for low-income Mainers when it expires this summer.
Coordinated Transportation Solutions (CTS) began scheduling those rides across much of Maine on Aug. 1, taking over from local agencies such as the Washington Hancock Community Agency (WHCA).
The company is operating as the broker and has a $28.3-million contract with Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), because DHHS oversees MaineCare, Maine’s version of Medicaid.
The new arrangement was plagued with trouble from the start, as MaineCare clients complained of missed rides, long wait times on the phone and getting stranded at doctors’ offices with no way to get home.
Though the company had shown improvement in recent months, it was not enough for state officials. DHHS announced Jan. 10 that it would not continue CTS’s contracts (six contracts covering six regions) when they expire June 30.
Democrats in the Legislature have called the new brokerage system “flawed,” “troubled” and “broken.” One Democrat-sponsored bill would eliminate the new system by reverting back to relying on regional public transportation agencies that ran the system prior to Aug. 1.
DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew said her agency “absolutely remains committed” to the brokerage model now in place, though she added it has so far been “poorly implemented” by CTS.
Asked what incentive CTS has to meet the performance requirements of its contract in the months that remain, Mayhew noted the company operates in more states than just Maine and that it has a reputation to maintain.
She said the state is not going to lose sight of the fact CTS has at times struggled to meet all the requirements of its agreement with DHHS.
“CTS still has a contract with the state of Maine, with performance expectations that we intend to hold them accountable on,” she said.