HARRISBURG – To delay implementation of a program that will ultimately cost the Commonwealth millions of dollars, Rep. John Hershey (R-Franklin/Juniata/Mifflin) drafted legislation that would conduct a thorough review of the Medical Assistance Transportation Program.
The program offers shared rides to medical appointments for Medical Assistance recipients when other means are unavailable to them. One example includes the Mifflin-Juniata CARS program, operated by the Mifflin-Juniata Regional Services Corporation.
Last year’s Human Services Code included a requirement that the Department of Human Services revamp its system and deliver assistance utilizing a statewide or regional broker, rather than counties across the state providing the service. The savings, through federal reimbursements, were estimated at roughly $15 million.
However, the cost associated with the program was not considered. Further analysis shows that the ultimate cost to the Commonwealth would be significantly higher at $31.5 million.
“I wholeheartedly support looking for ways to save taxpayer money. However, we can’t get so excited to save $15 million that we fail to consider that the change could cost us much more,” Hershey said. “By requiring brokerage of a program such as Mifflin-Juniata CARS, our counties could be forced to pay more in the long-term while offering a lower level of service.”
The legislation is supported by the Pennsylvania Public Transportation Association, County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania and county transportation providers.
“We are concerned about the impact to our communities and feel that more time is needed to evaluate the program. Medical Assistance recipients may be placed at a greater risk as safety requirements become more relaxed. Also, the benefit of having a local provider that knows the community and can connect passengers with other relevant resources would be lost,” said Mary Ann Demi, the executive director of Mifflin-Juniata Regional Services.
Senate Bill 390
, the companion bill to the one Hershey drafted, is sponsored by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne/Pike/Susquehanna/Wayne/Wyoming).
Representative John Hershey
82nd Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Alison Evans