Thursday, November 03, 2005

Missouri plans investigation into Medicaid transit

By Kelly Wiese

Source: KCS
Credit: The Associated Press
Thursday, November 3, 2005
Edition: MID-AMERICA, Section: METROPOLITAN, Page B8

JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Matt Blunt's administration asked the attorney general Wednesday to look into concerns that companies are breaking the law in negotiations with the firm that gives Medicaid patients rides.

The state in October awarded the contract for nonemergency medical trips for Medicaid patients to Georgia-based Logisticare Solutions LLC.

That company is to start providing rides Saturday.

Blunt's Office of Administration said it heard reports from Logisticare and others that the subcontractors would only negotiate as a group to try and drive up the price, which it said could violate state or federal anti-trust laws.

The attorney general's office "can best decide whether or not there's a problem and what action needs to be taken," Office of Administration chief counsel Henry Herschel said.

Logisticare spokesman Ed Domansky said the company already had found enough van and cab companies to handle 80 percent of the traffic volume expected Monday, when demand is higher.

The company expects to have enough contractors to handle trips Saturday, but the issue still needs to be investigated, he said.

Some subcontractors complain that the new contract's rates are too low and that the potential fines for running late are too high for them to work for Logisticare.

Sondra Smith, who owns J&S Medical in Clinton, said Logisticare won't negotiate with her or other businesses.

"The contract is so designed that they will be keeping all the money and the vendors get nothing," she said.

The Missouri Transportation Coalition, which includes about 40 vendors, has an attorney to help with contract negotiations, but Smith said that each company has its own requirements and costs, and that there wasn't a set of demands from the entire group.

"We're not price fixing; we're not colluding," she said.

Domansky said the company is trying to work with vendors.

"We have been reaching out for several weeks now to every possible transportation provider, inviting them to be part of our transportation network," he said.

"Some of them have not returned phone calls, or some have actually said they won't work with us."

Administration Commissioner Michael Keathley said in his letter that the subcontractors' actions could make it difficult to provide the transportation service.

Attorney General Jay Nixon's office said only that it had received the letter but not the contract Wednesday afternoon.

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