Medicaid patients who need a ride to their doctor’s office could soon see improved service after a local public transportation provider was tentatively awarded a contract by the state.
TAPS (Texoma Area Paratransit System) was recently notified that its application to provide non-emergency medical transportation services was approved by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, pending final contract negotiations.
For local residents, that will mean no longer having to call an out-of-town call center for transportation.
“That is going to be no more,” said TAPS CEO Brad Underwood in an informational video published on the TAPS website. “They are going to pick up the phone and they are going to call their local transportation provider, which is TAPS, and we are going to end up scheduling the trip for them, walking them through the eligibility process, determine the best mode of transportation for them and ultimately give them the ride that they need back and forth of the doctor’s office.”
TAPS has provided Medicaid transport in the past, but this is the first time the service has been directly awarded a Medicaid contract. In previous years, those contracts have gone to private transportation companies, leading to complaints about poor service and possible Medicaid fraud.
Thanks to those complaints, Senate Bill 8 was passed in the last session of the Texas Legislature aimed at reducing Medicaid fraud.
Underwood said he worked closely with legislators who were crafting the bill, and even testified a couple of times before house subcommittees. The final bill included language that would allow TAPS to be eligible to apply for the Medicaid contract.
“If you’ve ever had problems in service from a Medicaid transportation service provider, this is a good day for you,” said Dan Acree, communications and marketing manager for TAPS. “TAPS is not a private company, it’s public. It has different service standards.”
The award was given for Region 4, which includes the seven counties currently served by TAPS – Wise, Collin, Fannin, Grayson, Cooke, Montague and Clay – as well as Archer, Baylor, Cottle, Foard, Hardeman, Jack, Wilbarger, Wichita and Young counties. Underwood said TAPS currently employs 250, but the expansion will require hiring about 150 more to serve the new “super region.”
Approximately 55,000 Medicaid-eligible recipients live in the 16-county region.
Underwood said TAPS will begin Medicaid transportation service by Sept. 1.