Posted: April 14, 2014 | Front Page, Senator Jackson, Senator Lachowicz

LePage ignores impact on 45,000 Mainers depending on rides to medical appointments, work

AUGUSTA– In spite of months of mismanagement by his administration, Governor LePage has vetoed a bill that would have prevented the Department of Health and Human Services from renewing contracts with the troubled MaineCare ride brokers.

“This one is a head-scratcher. For months, clients, providers, and lawmakers have been frustrated by the silence and lack of action from Governor LePage on this bungled transportation system,” said Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash. “What kind of CEO keeps paying for a contract when the vendors fail to deliver the service?”

About 45,000 people each month use the rides system, which costs $40 million per year. In August, the department switched from a transportation program operated by local nonprofits to a regional system run by so-called ride brokers. Since the transition, the new system has been plagued with failures and complaints: clients have had difficulty booking rides and patients have missed appointments because rides have been delayed or failed to show up completely.

“These patients are some of our most vulnerable and seriously ill among us—and they are missing critical doctor’s appointments. The mismanagement of this contract is hurting those who can afford it the least,” said Democratic Senator Colleen Lachowicz of Waterville, who serves on the Health and Human Services Committee.

With a total of 133 vetoes during his tenure, Governor LePage has exceeded the number of vetoes by any other Governor, including the previous record holder, one-term Governor Jim Longley with 118 vetoes.

The Senate will take up the veto of the measure, LD 1663, “Resolve, To Require New Contracts for MaineCare Nonemergency Transportation,” tomorrow. Two-thirds, or 24 votes, is needed to override the veto.