Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus has announced the County’s agreement with the non-emergency Medicaid transportation broker, Medical Answering Services (MAS), LLC has provided residents with improved customer service and will result in taxpayer savings of more than $1.25 million. The switch to MAS was a result of work done by the County Executive’s Health and Human Services Cabinet, led by Director Betsy Brockway, whose members researched and made final recommendations on the Medicaid transportation issue.
“Once again, our Health & Human Services Cabinet has led the way for major system changes that save significant taxpayer dollars and improved service for our residents,” said County Executive Steinhaus.
Non-emergency medical transportation is a service provided to Medicaid clients who require transportation to get to medical appointments. As the Medicaid transportation broker, MAS coordinates calls from the medical community about eligible Medicaid clients’ needs for transportation to specific medical appointments and arranges for the transportation through LOOP, taxi or ambulance services.
The $1.25 million savings is result of several changes made over the last year by MAS including:
Limiting trips to eligible covered services and moving recipients to an appropriate level of transportation based on the client verification and utilization review.
MAS changed the taxi rate system to a flat rate basis to charge the lowest rate for transportation between cities, resulting in a savings of $4.16 per round trip.
MAS established a fixed rate for additional short distance trips within New York City for lab tests in conjunction with previously scheduled NYC doctors’ appointments, saving $165 per trip.
MAS has facilitated the transition to have the Medicaid transportation providers paid directly through the State’s EmedNY system instead of having the county pay vendors and then seek state reimbursement.
Customer service has been greatly improved through MAS’ use of a web-based system which can handle transportation appointment requests 24 hours a day, 7 days a week instead of the former system of calls or faxes during business hours only. MAS offers Language Line translation services to better meet the needs of clients, as well as TTY phone services for those with hearing and/or speech impairments.
Under the leadership of Director Betsy Brockway, the Dutchess County Health and Human Services Cabinet worked with the Center for Governmental Research (CGR) to review the County’s non-emergency Medicaid transportation referral system, operated by the LOOP Bus system, for recommendations on a more cost-effective delivery of services. Recommendations included:
Separate transportation brokerage services from LOOP operations;
Move vendors to the eMedNY billing system;
Improve the route bidding process;
Identify performance measures and standards for a transportation broker model.
“Non emergency Medicaid transportation eligibility is an enormously complicated federal program with issues related to geography, levels of service and user concerns,” said Health & Human Services Cabinet Director Betsy Brockway. “Our Health & Human Services Cabinet has been very successful in strengthening the working relationships across departments to make changes that better serve our residents and save taxpayer dollars.”
The Dutchess County Health & Human Services Cabinet includes the County Department Heads representing Budget, Health, Mental Hygiene, Social Services, Aging, Probation and Community Corrections, Veterans and Youth Bureau.