WATERVILLE, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Dr. Richard Staples, a Waterville psychologist, says he feels like Maine's new rides system for MaineCare patients is worse than he ever imagined.
Staples said he called Coordinated Transportation Systems on behalf of a client, who was concerned his ride wouldn't show up, and after initially getting through, he was put on hold. After 10 minutes, he called on a different phone and confirmed the ride was coming. But he kept waiting for his first call to be picked up. He said he went home for the day with the phone still on hold, and it was that way the next morning, too. After 21 hours, he hung up. "I didn't expect they'd be this bad," Staples said.
Staples also is the treasurer of Kennebec County Community Action Program, and says he recommended the agency not compete to be one of the brokers that distributes rides for MaineCare patients. He said he didn't think the system could work.
This story is the latest in a string of complaints that clients have made against brokers Coordinated Transportation Systems and Logisticare, ever since they took over the coordination of MaineCare rides on August 1. Lawmakers in Augusta held a hearing on the issue Wednesday, and left just as concerned as they were before.
Rep. Richard Farnsworth (D-Portland), the House chair of the Health and Human Services committee said, "What I am concerned about is whether the brokers we have have the capacity to work out the problems quickly, especially in their relationship to the providers."
Stefanie Nadeau, the state's Director of MaineCare Services, said the Department of Health and Human Services is giving the brokers weeks to fix the problems they've been having. Some people have complained the system as a whole cannot work, but Nadeau said the state will stick with it, even if one or more of the brokers need to be replaced.
"We are in the position that we believe in the system. We believe in the brokerage system. What we need to evaluate at this point in time is do we have the right brokers in place through the contractual process to succeed at this," Nadeau said.