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Audit finds MDHHS non-emergency transportation system ineffective

Posted at 10:19 AM, Mar 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-18 10:20:07-04

LANSING, Mich. — An audit of the state's Medicaid Non-Emergency Transportation Services, which gets Medicaid patients to and from doctor's appointments, found the system is not effective.

“You can have the best healthcare in the world, but if you can't access that care, if you can't get there with regularity, you're not going to get better," said Pam Miklavcic the founder and executive director of the Davies Project.

Her organization is a nonprofit that also provides rides to doctors and specialists for people in the community free of charge, specifically children and expectant mothers.

“We have about 80 volunteer drivers and most are retirees, but they've all been background checked, very thoroughly vetted and trained. We will then make sure that child can get to every single one of their medical appointments," Miklavcic said.

The state health department offers transportation free of charge to Medicaid recipients through a national transportation service called ModivCare Solutions. But a report released by the Michigan Office of the Auditor General this week found some significant gaps in their services. For instance, ModivCare could not always prove all their drivers had passed a criminal history and sex offender background check. In fact, they couldn’t show that all their drivers had valid driver’s licenses and insurance. And there were gaps in the documentation of the rides they provided.

“All I know is we are far fewer hoops to jump through to get a ride," Miklavcic said. "When you call us, somebody picks up the phone. You know, it's a very easy deal to work with us. And we have driven really hundreds of thousands of miles now without incident.”

Miklavcic explained that missing appointments, especially for low income patients, really comes down to transportation.

“If you look at the statistics in our city, 70% of the children who rely on the specialty clinics are on Medicaid," Miklavcic said. "And they are missing 60% of their outpatient appointments. Really most of it does come down to transportation. If you have a family in South Lansing, imagine a mom with an infant, you don't have a car picture the middle of the winter. You live about a half-mile from the bus route and you have to walk with your children to that bus route through a snowstorm, freezing cold slush. You have to wait for a bus and then you have at least two connections. Imagine not only that, but you have to do that three or four times a week. It's next to impossible.”

In response to part of the audit, MDHHS wrote that they will continue to require documentation to support provider eligibility.

"The department is taking action to ensure that Medicaid health plans, brokers and local MDHHS offices provide beneficiaries access to safe and customer-friendly transportation to non-emergency medical appointments," they wrote.