13 Investigates: State paying millions while patients left stranded

Jackie Myers waits for a ride that sometimes never shows up. (WTHR Photo)
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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) – The state of Indiana is paying $128 million to transport Medicaid patients to their doctors appointments.​

But there's a big problem. The statewide system can't keep up and is leaving patients stranded.​

13 Investigates got a call from a frustrated rider and began looking into the state's "no show" history and how both patients and taxpayers are paying for it.​

Jackie Myers, 72, just wants to follow doctors orders.​

But what it takes to get to and from her medical appointments makes her blood pressure rise.​​

"Sometimes they show up, sometimes they don't. It's been a pain," she said.​​

Indiana's Medicaid transportation system is often a "no show" leaving Myers and dozens of others statewide without a ride.​

Myers missed an eye doctor's appointment a day before our visit.​​

"That's why I called you. I got so disgusted," she told 13 Investigates, referring to the system that's been hit or miss since last year.

SoutheasTrans won a four year $128 million contract last June to run the State's transportation service. ​

Myers and many others have complained. Some of those complaints are on the Better Business Bureau website.​​

One of the complaints said: "This company does not keep set appointments...on a regular basis (the ride is) canceled."​

"No Medicaid transport driver has come to pick her up...missed critical dialysis treatment."​​

Despite promises by the state to get more vehicles on the road, rides are still a guessing game. ​​

"Anytime your heart doctor's receptionist tells you, 'Unless you're sure you have a ride, (do) not to make an appointment,' It's terrible!" said Myers, underscoring the ripple effect of the "no shows."​​

13 Investigates asked Indiana's Family and Social Services Administration to provide the number of "no-shows" since the service began last June. But the agency has yet to provide any numbers.​​

Back at Myers house, it's almost pick up time. ​​

"Do you think they're going to show up today?" asked 13 Investigates Reporter Sandra Chapman.​​

Myers shrugged her shoulders and raised her hands to indicate her lack of certainty.​

According to FSSA, SoutheasTrans is making improvement.​​

On this day, Myers' pick up time passed. ​

Minutes after she went back inside to get a phone to call SoutheasTrans, Myers' face lit up with a smile.​

Her ride had pulled up. This time.​​

"So it's a good day today?" 13 Investigates asked as Myers got into the transport van.​​

"It's a good day today...Thank you so much for coming," she said before the van pulled away to take Myers to her scheduled doctor's appointment.​​

SoutheasTrans also has contracts in Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington D.C.​​

A national study has shown states providing medical transports actually saving about $40 million in medical costs. But of course that savings only happens if drivers show up and get patients to their appointments. ​

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