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Improving transportations for those we serve; DHHS Listening sessions scheduled for riders

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provides transportation to approximately 55,000 Mainers each year. This includes about 2.5 million trips to doctors’ offices, educational classes, employment opportunities, and appointments.

These services are provided through various contracts to diverse populations with a range of needs, from children to working families to adults with disabilities. The cost is significant: $83 million per year ($30 million state General Fund), with nearly all covered with MaineCare funds.

We recognized an opportunity to improve and better coordinate these services, so in June 2019, DHHS convened a workgroup consisting of staff from the Offices of MaineCare Services, Child and Family Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, Aging and Disability Services, and Contract Management to perform a comprehensive review.

The workgroup’s objective was to assess DHHS transportation services and recommend improvements based on their evaluation. Throughout this process, the group examined quality, performance, and safety requirements in DHHS transportation contracts to identify opportunities for greater consistency and alignment.
The workgroup identified several challenges, including: the billing of multiple funding streams, overlapping client populations, and varying eligibility requirements and payment methodologies used across client populations.
The workgroup has put forth a series of recommendations to address these challenges. By the time transportation contracts are renewed on July 1, 2020, the group recommends that DHHS:

1. Improve policy and contract language to better align services across DHHS, with the goal of 95% of quality, performance and safety requirements aligning in final contract standards;
2. Communicate with transportation providers to get feedback and understand any barriers to implementing the recommendations; and,
3. Procure an outside evaluation of transportation services.
We will assess a number of options, which could include implementing a single statewide transportation system through a request for proposals (RFP).
Our work will also incorporate communications with clients and stakeholders to learn more about their experience and identify barriers to access to transportation services.

We will hold four listening sessions throughout the state in November:

• November 13, 5:30 p.m. – Houlton DHHS office
• November 18, 5:30 p.m. – Lewiston DHHS office
• November 20, 5:30 p.m. – Bangor DHHS office
• November 25, 5:30 p.m. – Portland DHHS office

We look forward to making DHHS transportation services more efficient, accountable and accessible.