Who Needs Able?


ANNE C WOODLEN                                                  ___  ribs2007@yahoo.com

November 23, 2012

Gregory S. Allen, Director
Division of Program Development & Management
Office of Health Insurance Programs
New York State Department of Health
Empire State Plaza, Corning Tower
Albany, NY 12237

Re:  DOT Case 38002, George Tackley d/b/a Aladdin Transportation LLC

Dear Greg,

George Tackley, owner and operator of Aladdin Transportation in Onondaga County, tells me that he is being denied the opportunity to operate as a Medicaid transportation vendor.  If I understand correctly (and I’m not sure I’ve pierced the bureaucratic language accurately) it is because Able Medical Transportation claims that we don’t need another Medicaid transport company.

Enclosed please find a copy of a DOT document that has no heading but appears to be a hearing decision.  It says that you appeared as an interested party.

In the first place, what does “need” have to do with it?  Since when is the government deciding what the people need?  The document most correctly states that “the Department’s policy has increasingly evolved to letting the marketplace decide if there is a need. . .”  Indeed!  The American way is to let the people in the marketplace decide.

It is right and seemly and wise for the government to set standards of performance to ensure the safety of its citizens.  DOT, DMV and DOH should be setting performance standards—then they should get out of the way and let the customers decide who should be in business. 

The DMV establishes standards and tests applicants for driver’s licenses but it does not decide how many people should have licenses or how many cars should be on the road.  DOH oversight of Medicaid transportation should behave in the same way.  Once a vendor has established compliance with standards then there should be no further barriers to the vendor joining the Medicaid transportation group.

In the second place, Bill Taddeo, speaking for Able Medical Transportation in a letter to the DOT commissioner dated June 6, states that his fleet has been reduced from 50 to 25 vehicles in five years:  “This reduction is the direct result of the reduced need for transportation services in Onondaga County.”  Nothing could be further from the truth.

I have ridden with TLC Transportation for years and often have had to sit in doctors’ offices for two hours waiting for a return pickup because TLC was too busy to get me sooner.  There is a continuing need for good vendors.  In fact, there are two reasons why Able’s business is failing.  One is that the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General stopped Wayne Freeman and Medical Answering Service (MAS) from unfairly giving business to Able.  The other is that Able is a crappy service.

Variously, public media, my personal experience, and comments from credible witnesses have reported—

  • An Able driver raped a passenger and went to prison.
  • Able is hiring convicted felons as drivers, then using legal drivers to get the licenses and paperwork to cover them.
  • Able somehow seems to know when the inspectors are coming and tells its illegal drivers to stay home that day.
  • A social worker at Upstate Medical Center was fired for receiving a bribe from Able.
  • An Able driver put on the brakes and a 2-quart beer bottle rolled out from under his seat.
  • An Able driver was on the Interstate, driving with one hand and with the other hand holding onto an occupied manual wheelchair that was not tied down.
  • A wheelchair was tied down with narrow, frayed straps that were substandard.
  • Able had a sweetheart deal with Freeman/MAS whereby they were getting paid for putting an extra driver in the van.
  • With two drivers in the van, I was half an hour late for an appointment because they got lost three times.
  • With two drivers at the foot of the ramp, I hit my head while exiting the door and nearly passed out.
  • On the Interstate, an Able van only could get up to 45 mph.
  • Able customers get favors, e.g., free rides to beauty salons, to keep them as customers.
  • A passenger injured through negligence was bought off for a hundred dollars within a couple hours before the passenger understood his rights or knew the extent of his injuries.
  • Able vans are dirty, rusted pieces of junk.
  • Able drivers do not wear uniforms, but dirty, ragged, ill-fitting clothes.

The only thing that kept Able in business was the illegal schemes with Freeman/MAS.  Bill Taddeo and his father Frank stayed in business because they were given an unfair advantage.  Without that, Able is now losing business because it is a bad company and nobody wants to ride with them. The company is not an acceptable competitor in the marketplace and is resorting to bureaucratically preventing competition instead of improving its quality to become competitive.  There is still a need for Medicaid transporters but the people are speaking:  they don’t want to ride with Able.

As you know, the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General investigated Wayne Freeman and Medical Answering Service based on my considerable efforts after Freeman and his partner got a quarter-million-dollar no-bid contract from Onondaga County.  The result was that MAS got fined $80,000 and forced into the first-ever Corporate Compliance Agreement in New York State.  Likewise, Centro’s Call-a-Bus was investigated by the Federal Transportation Administration’s Office of Civil Rights after my considerable efforts.  Centro had to buy a half-million-dollars’ worth of additional short buses and completely revamp its eligibility process.  I know a few things about disability transportation in Onondaga County.

I have known George Tackley for about ten years.  He used to be a partner in Blue Chip Transportation, which was a subcontractor to Centro’s Call-a-Bus paratransit company.  A few years ago he went independent and started Aladdin Transportation, which also is a Call-a-Bus subcontractor.  He transports disabled people all the time, including me in my wheelchair.  For him to have my approval says a lot about the quality of his service.

George runs a good company.  The buses are clean and in good repair.  The drivers are on time, capable and good-natured.  Everything appears to be up to standard.  I cannot relate a single unsafe or unpleasant experience I’ve had while traveling under his oversight.  George Tackley, doing business as Aladdin Transportation, is “fit, willing and able to provide [the] service.”

Greg, if you have the authority to make Aladdin a Medicaid transportation provider then please do so as soon as possible.  If you are not the authorized person then please direct me to the right person.

Sincerely,

Cc:     Robert A. Rybak, Acting Chief Administrative Law Judge, c/o Clifford Thomas, Acting Director, Office of Modal Safety & Security, DOT

John Sitterly, Project Manager, Div. of Medicaid Investigations, OMIG

George Tackley, Aladdin Transportation

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
This entry was posted in activism, advocacy, disability, disability rights, Government Services, Medicaid, power wheelchairs, Values and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Who Needs Able?

  1. Wow! Thank you! I constantly needed to write on my site something like that. Can I implement a part of your post to my website?

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