News

NJ Seeks New Improved Medical Transportation Contract

January 5, 2016  |  Courier Post  |  Link to article

After fielding complaints about missed dialysis appointments and patients abandoned at their doctor's offices, New Jersey has issued new terms for the next contract with its Medicaid transportation broker.

The 103-page "request for proposal," or RFP, requires GPS tracking, improved complaint records and reduced wait times from the next contractor.

That's welcome news to community organizers who pushed for such changes over the past few years.

Since 2009, the state has contracted with Atlanta-based LogistiCare to arrange non-emergency medical transportation for Medicaid patients using local vendors.

Before then, New Jersey relied on a patchwork of local and county transportation services. With operations in 40 states, the company claims a 99 percent complaint-free rating.

In June, while it was still crafting new terms, New Jersey extended its contract with LogistiCare for one year, explained Nicole Brossoie, a spokeswoman for the state's Department of Human Services. The state needed extra time, she said, "so that we could ensure that we had very comprehensive and explicit language in the RFP" that was responsive to concerns raised by Medicaid clients.

With the help of Faith in New Jersey, Camden Churches Organized for People, and the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, patients told state officials that local vendors were often late — and sometimes never showed up at all. Crystal McDonald, director of organizing for Faith in New Jersey, said her organization was happy to see the long-awaited terms.

"We are still reviewing the details, but so far it looks like several of the community and stakeholder recommendations have been included," McDonald said. "We look forward to reviewing (the RFP) more deeply and applaud N.J. Medicaid for its thoughtful engagement of health stakeholders in this process."

Lori Bonderowitz, general manager of LogistiCare New Jersey, said the company exceeded state standards and saved "significant taxpayer dollars," as the state's Medicaid enrollment grew by 600,000 patients in the past five years.

"Our commitment to continually improve member access to healthcare is resolute," Bonderowitz said, in an e-mailed statement. "We’re already using GPS in select vehicles at the state’s direction, and we look forward to statewide coverage.

"These measures create time efficiencies for current riders, increase the capacity to transport more patients and assist in ride recovery," Bonderowitz added. "They also save on fuel costs and vehicle maintenance for the many N.J. small businesses contracted to form the transportation network.”

It is normal for the state to re-bid such contracts every three to five years, Bonderowitz explained.