- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 12, 2015

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A company in charge of providing transportation to doctors’ appointments for low and moderate income people in Wisconsin was late or never showed up thousands of times in less than a one-year period, an audit released Tuesday showed.

The nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau’s audit said Medical Transportation Management, a company the state paid $56.1 million to provide non-emergency medical trips for Medicaid recipients in the 2013-2014 fiscal year, needs to do a better job getting people to appointments on time.

The audit said the state’s contract required 99.7 percent of MTM’s trips to be complaint free, but the company only met that standard three months between August 2013 and June 2014. The audit found MTM did not arrive for a scheduled trip 4,154 times and drivers were more than 15 minutes late 55,320 times.

Some Medicaid recipients indicated in complaints filed with MTM that their health care providers stopped seeing them because they missed too many appointments, the audit said.

Additionally, more than 14 percent of calls placed to MTM’s call center in June 2014 were abandoned before they were answered, the audit said.

The audit proposed a series of recommendations to improve performance, including additional requirements for the call center and establishing standards for how many trips per month will be permitted where the driver never shows up or is more than 15 minutes late. The audit also recommended that a plan be developed requiring MTM to meet new, stricter performance standards and report weekly to DHS.

Department of Health Services Secretary Kitty Rhoades said the recommendations will be implemented.

“The Department is committed to ensuring a positive overall member experience,” Rhoades said in a letter of response to the audit bureau.

The company said in a statement that it already has modified existing procedures and started new programs in response to the audit’s findings but did not specify what those were.

During the 11-month period reviewed, MTM provided 2.3 million trips to a business, clinic, hospital or doctor’s office where services were to be provided to about 69,300 Medicaid recipients, the audit found.

The audit bureau did a survey of 5,000 Medicaid recipients who had used the transportation service at least once between January and June 2014. It found that 87 percent were satisfied or very satisfied with the services provided, while more than 40 percent said they missed appointments or had to reschedule because drivers were more than 15 minutes late.

The audit was ordered by a bipartisan group of state lawmakers in response to complaints they heard about the service.

Assembly Democratic Minority Leader Peter Barca said the audit shows that the program is in need of “serious overhaul.”

Sen. Rob Cowles, the Republican co-chair of the Audit Committee, said he hoped the audit would result in better services and more aggressive resolution of complaints in the future.

“While there are obviously some areas for improvement, overall this program has seemed to provide reasonably suitable transportation services,” Cowles said.

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Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sbauerAP

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