KIYC: LogistiCare gets new state contract

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EDISON -

New Jersey has awarded a contract to a company called Logisticare, which manages transportation to medical appointments for state Medicaid patients. Earlier this year, a Kane in Your Corner investigation cast doubt on LogistiCare's self-reporting of complaints.

"It's really kind of hard dealing with these people," Wallace Edwards says of his frustrations with LogistiCare. "It keeps my blood pressure out of control. It keeps me aggravated."

Edwards says he sometimes has to wait two or three hours to get picked up and that his rides may not even show up on Sundays.

Those complaints are similar to ones KIYC heard in June, when KIYC first investigated LogistiCare.

Since that investigation aired, LogistiCare was dropped as the Medicaid transportation provider in Connecticut. But in New Jersey, the state has just renewed LogistiCare's contract for five more years.

"I think they made a very bad mistake," Edwards says. "I don't think they should have gotten that contract again. And I think whoever gave that contract wasn't thinking about the people."

A spokesperson for the state treasurer's office says, "LogistiCare had the highest technical score and the lowest price of all bidders," adding, "Its complaint rate on average is less than 1 percent."

Some advocates say their experiences have been different.

Carolyn Beauchamp is president of the Mental Health Association of New Jersey. The group conducted a survey that found 53 percent of its members missed appointments because of LogistiCare.

"They felt discriminated against because of mental illness," she says.

Still, Beauchamp is hopeful things will get better, saying the new contract includes several changes for which her agency fought.

Among the changes in the contract, 90 percent of pickups must occur within 30 minutes of the scheduled time, drivers must now wait at least 10 minutes for patients and LogistiCare has to provide the state access to its records.

But Edwards, who's documented years of complaints with LogistiCare, is not optimistic that anything will change.

"I'm tired," Edwards says. "I'm tired of fighting them."

A LogistiCare executive says the company is honored to be renewed as the state's Medicaid provider. She says the Medicaid contract has gone through a lot of changes since 2009 and that LogistiCare has managed to maintain a 99 percent complaint-free program.

As for Edwards' problems, LogistiCare apologizes but says he has taken 501 trips this year and has only filed nine complaints.

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