Lillian Romano has heard the phrase, “The check is in the mail,” but when she got a call on Monday that a check would be cut for Bay Taxi today, she was elated.
“We got a promise we would be paid right up to the last billing,” Romano said Tuesday.
That would mean the company her husband Robert has operated for decades will get more than $50,000 owed since May 1.
It was on that date that LogistiCare, which operates in 42 states, assumed a $24 million contract with the Executive Office of Health and Human Services [EOHHS] for the scheduling and payment for rides given to persons on Medicare that need transportation to make doctors’ appointments, dialysis, senior services and scores of other appointments. LogistiCare acts as a broker, contracting the work to companies like Beach Cab as well as RIPTA.
Previously, RIde, a division of RIPTA, managed the scheduling. RIPTA was excluded from bidding on the contract. RIPTA buses continue to provide many of the 88,000 rides provided monthly.
According to EOHHS Secretary Steven Costantino, the agency was looking for a means to coordinate the transportation services in an effort to reduce missed rides and improve efficiencies.
LogistiCare was one of several companies to bid on the Rhode Island contract and, according to vendors providing the rides, the company expected a three- or four-month transition after winning the bid. As it turned out, the conversion was made in about a month.
With the change, a number of people accustomed to a driver and schedule were faced with changes.
“I would have to say it was a hardship,” Romano said of some customers who the company has been transporting for 15 years, who now face unfamiliar faces and different pickup times.
Because of snafus over payment, Romano said the company had to dip into reserves to meet expenses, including the payment of drivers, fuel and maintenance.
“All I can say is our fingers are crossed,” she said of a payment.
After reports last week from Bay Taxi and other companies failing to get paid, Costantino looked into the matter. He said some vendors had failed to complete compliance forms, such as providing an insurance binder, or had failed to file invoices in time to meet the semi-monthly payment schedule.
Thus far, the new system appears to be meeting Costantino’s objective to reduce missed rides.
EOHHS Deputy Secretary David Burnett said that, for the month of May, LogistiCare logged 622 complaints, of which 400 were for situations where a scheduled ride was dropped. Based on the 88,000 rides provided for the month, he said that works out to a 99.3 percent rides completed rate.
Burnett said that’s a high percentage of providing the ride that people want.
He said checks to Bay and other vendors are being cut today.