- Associated Press - Friday, February 28, 2014

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - A legislative committee has approved a bill to make changes to the troubled system that provides non-emergency rides to Maine Medicaid patients.

The Health and Human Services Committee endorsed the bill Thursday that would terminate the contracts of the state’s three current brokers on June 30, and compel the Department of Health and Human Services to seek proposals for new contracts more friendly to local nonprofits, the Portland Press Herald reported (http://bit.ly/NaZQnh ).

The bill now goes to the full Legislature.

The system, implemented Aug. 1 to meet federal guidelines, brought in contractors to arrange rides for MaineCare patients. But there were thousands of complaints from patients who said they missed rides to medical appointments.

“I watched that train wreck last summer,” said Rep. Drew Gattine, D-Westbrook, a member of the committee. “I don’t want to watch the same train wreck this summer.”

The DHHS had already announced that the six contracts for Connecticut-based Coordinated Transportation Solutions would not be renewed. Department officials had said they was open to giving preference to local groups and getting rid of a rule that prevents ride brokers from referring more than 25 percent of rides to themselves.

DHHS released new bidding procedures Wednesday.

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Information from: Portland Press Herald, http://www.pressherald.com