Rock County reports issues with medical transport

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JANESVILLE, Wis. (AP) – Medicaid and BadgerCare Plus recipients in the Janesville area are having problems with the state-contracted ride service hired to drive them to medical appointments.

There are few substantiated complaints compared to the number of rides the service provides, but The Janesville Gazette reports numerous people have had problems with Missouri-based MTM, which subcontracts with a network of providers throughout the state for transport.

Rider Jeremy Smith said a driver once showed up with a spare tire and another asked him for gas money.

“I had to get to Madison for my appointment,” Smith said. “What was I going to do?”

Another driver told him she didn’t have proof of insurance. Smith isn’t sure if that meant that she didn’t have her insurance card with her or if she didn’t have insurance.

“When I called them up to complain, they said I didn’t have any business asking her about her insurance,” Smith said. “But I didn’t ask; she told me.”

In a statement, MTM spokeswoman Michele Lucas said it’s never acceptable for drivers to ask for money. She also encourages clients to report problems.

MTM has a “We Care” hotline separate from the dispatch number. It also has an online complaint form. Complaints must be registered properly or they don’t count.

Rock County mobility manager Justin Svingen isn’t convinced complaints are reaching the company.

“It just seems like people got so exhausted from complaining in the past, they just don’t bother anymore,” he said.

Svingen told of a patient with muscular dystrophy who needed to see a Madison specialist. After three no-shows by the transportation provider, the specialist’s staff refused to make an appointment for her.

Svingen is now encouraging passengers to call the state Legislative Audit Bureau Fraud, Waste and Mismanagement Hotline and share their stories. Several state legislators have called for an audit of the program.

Elizabeth Shadel works for Associates in Psychotherapy and treats a number of patients who need the ride service.

“I’ve had complaints from all of them,” Shadel said.

The patients struggle with serious mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety, and therapy is a crucial part of treatment.

When a patient doesn’t show up, Shadel cannot charge Medicaid or BadgerCare for a missed appointment. Shadel is more concerned about her patients’ health.

The structure of the appointments adds to the benefits of treatment, she said. For patients with anxiety and depression, the question, “Will my ride show up?” is another stress.

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