Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco County drops Medicaid riders from cash-strapped paratransit program

Pasco County is dropping out of a state program that provides $826,000 a year to ferry low-income residents to medical appointments.

That doesn't spell an end to the paratransit program for the elderly and disabled, much of which is financed with other sources of federal and state money. In fact, officials say that dropping this particular money-draining service could help reduce the scheduling delays that have hit the entire program.

But it also puts certain riders — namely younger Medicaid clients — in limbo until the state finds someone else to provide those rides.

The problem, say Pasco officials, is that the state's Medicaid Non-Emergency Transportation has become a financial drain on the rest of the county's transit program.

The state provides Pasco enough money each month to finance 1,700 trips by the paratransit vehicles, which pick up clients at their homes, as well as 267 bus passes.

Officials say the demand for the services outstrips the funding. Transit manager Mike Carroll estimated that the county is handling about 1,800 trips a month for the Medicaid clients.

The county says the service is on track to rack up a $180,000 deficit this year.

Because the service is an entitlement program, the county can't turn away clients who meet certain requirements, including that they have no other means of transportation and that they are going to medical appointments that Medicaid is helping pay for.

So Pasco officials have been drawing on other pots of money to make up the difference. In the end, that means less money to cover rides for all of the paratransit riders.

The effect has been longer wait times for everybody else, including elderly citizens who aren't on Medicaid. As the Times reported last month, many of those elderly and disabled clients are having to put their names on waiting lists that are at least two weeks out.

Assistant County Administrator Dan Johnson said many of the clients who use the Medicaid program are senior citizens. That means they are likely covered by federal funding sources.

He said that if the state is unable to find another contractor, it would be the younger Medicaid clients who might be left out.

Commissioners agreed last week to give a 90-day notice to the Florida Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged, housed in the Florida Department of Transportation, that Pasco would be dropping out. Other counties, including Hillsborough, have taken that step in recent years.

So what should Pasco's paratransit riders do? Nothing, Carroll said.

Service will remain the same for everybody for the next 90 days, and for most clients well beyond that, he said.

Once the state decides who will provide rides for the Medicaid clients, Carroll said, those clients will be notified about the new provider. The notification may come via mail, and Carroll said his office also would provide the information Medicaid riders need.

Pasco has acted as contractor for the program since 1999.

Jodie Tillman can be reached at jtillman@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6247.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Pasco County is dropping a portion of its paratransit program that serves Medicaid clients, but is keeping the rest of the program that provides rides to elderly and disabled residents. A headline on the original version of this story incorrectly described the changes to the program.

Pasco County drops Medicaid riders from cash-strapped paratransit program 06/12/10 [Last modified: Monday, June 14, 2010 1:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Can the Bad Boys Mowers Gasparilla Bowl thrive in competitive sports market?

    Business

    ST. PETERSBURG — It's a funky name: the Bad Boys Mowers Gasparilla Bowl. But the new sponsors for the former St. Petersburg Bowl might need more than an eye-catching name to create a thriving, profitable contest.

    NC State head coach Dave Doeren clutches the championship trophy after winning the Bitcoin Bowl at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg in 2014. Bowl organizers are changing the name of the game to the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl.
[

MONICA HERNDON | TIMES]
  2. Dirk Koetter says Bucs used team meeting to discuss social issues

    Bucs

    Four days before their preseason home opener against the Cleveland Browns, which had 12 players not stand for the national anthem prior to their last game, the Bucs used their team meeting to discuss social issues that might have led to that demonstration, coach Dirk Koetter said.

    "The main thing is we have to respect everybody's opinion," Dirk Koetter said, "because everybody is not going to agree." [AP photo]
  3. Rookie tight end Antony Auclair making case to stick with Bucs

    Bucs

    Don't let his modest preseason stats fool you: Antony Auclair, the undrafted rookie tight end from Canada is making a strong case to stick around on the Bucs' 53-man roster this season.

    Bucs tight end Antony Auclair (82) collides with a defender following a catch during training camp. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]
  4. Who is that 'Blacks for Trump' guy standing behind the president at his Phoenix rally

    National

    At a number of political rallies over the last two years, a character calling himself "Michael the Black Man" has appeared in the crowd directly behind Donald Trump, impossible to miss and possibly planted.

    Michael the Black Man, variously known as Michael Symonette, Maurice Woodside and Mikael Israel, holds up a sign as President Donald Trump speaks to a crowd at the Phoenix Convention Center during a rally on Tuesday in Phoenix, Arizona.  [Ralph Freso | Getty Images]
  5. Off-duty Manatee County deputy saves couple from burning car

    Public Safety

    MANATEE COUNTY — Neil and Claudia Cook are lucky to be alive after an off-duty deputy spotted them trapped in their smoking car and rescued them just before it became engulfed in flames on …

    Neil and Claudia Cook were trapped in their smoking car on Sunday when an off-duty deputy kicked out the window, rescuing them just before the car became engulfed in flames. [Courtesy of Manatee County Sheriff's Office]