Privatizating medical transport abuses patients: 'I feel like they're trying to kill me' | Wis.Community
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Privatizating medical transport abuses patients: 'I feel like they're trying to kill me'

Gov. Scott Walker pretty much believes that privatization is the solution to any governmental problem, despite much evidence to the contrary.

This report, from the Waupaca County Post, tells of problems since Walker's budget privatized medical transportation on July 1 and gave it all to one company, Atlanta-based LogistiCare. It has been a nightmare.

LogistiCare says on its website its commitment is:

We never lose focus on the human needs of our riders and the practical day-to-day challenges faced by their health care providers.

 There are a lot of patients who would dispute that.

While this story simply explores the problems in one county, you can bet that an investigation by another media outlet would turn up widespread complaints across the state. This is much more than a Waupaca County problem.

Here's the first piece of the story:

For years, Jim Barry relied on Waupaca County’s volunteer drivers to take him to his medical appointments.


The 67-year-old Weyauwega man needs dialysis three times a week. He is struggling with cancer and can no longer drive himself to his health care providers.


"The county drivers were never late and I never missed an appointment," Barry said. "Since the new guys took over, I have missed seven appointments. Their service leaves a lot to be desired."


In the past, the local program for non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) was run by the Aging and Disability Resource Center, using local volunteer drivers recruited by the Waupaca County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The drivers provided elderly and disabled Medicaid recipients rides to their medical appointments.


On July 1, LogistiCare, a private, for-profit corporation based in Atlanta, Ga., became Wisconsin’s sole broker for NEMT.


Pat Enright is the aging and disability resource manager for Waupaca County DHHS. He has logged dozens of complaints from patients who have missed their medical appointments due to their rides arriving late or not showing up at all.


On Aug. 1, Enright sent a letter to Greg DiMiceli, the Medicaid transportation analyst who oversees the state program, detailing the problems since LogistiCare took control.


Enright also filed an elder abuse complaint against LogistiCare as a result of Barry’s experience.


"A vulnerable adult that has a care provider who has assumed responsibility for a portion of their care and then failed to provide that care could be charged with abuse of a vulnerable adult," Enright said in his letter to DiMiceli.


"These people don’t understand that I get really sick when they’re late picking me up," Barry said, noting that being late for an appointment can result in his being at the clinic for eight hours as he waits for the dialysis equipment to become available again. And missing his dialysis treatment means toxic wastes are not being removed from his body. A Logisticare driver also failed to pick Barry up for a scheduled ride to the clinic for a CAT scan.


"I feel like they’re trying to kill me," Barry said. "Yesterday, I made my funeral arrangements."

Read the rest here. You'll find more detailed horror stories.

UPDATE:: Isthmus actually had about this in June, including this:

Although the change is coming as Gov. Scott Walker tries to push through a budget with drastic cuts to human services, he did not initiate this change — former Gov. Jim Doyle did.

That doesn't make it any better or more defensible. Just setting it straight.


August 15, 2011 - 4:18pm