Speaking of “wrong” vendors—Medicaid dispatch appeared to be violating the vendors’ right to fair trade. One vendor was talking to his lawyer about filing RICO charges against Wayne Freeman, et al. RICO is the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Law.
The way Medicaid transportation dispatch is supposed to work is that when a patient calls in a ride request then the patient gets to pick the vendor. This is called “choice,” also known as “freedom.” If the patient expresses no preference then the dispatch company is supposed to assign rides in rotation to available vendors. That’s how it’s supposed to work.
How Medicaid dispatch was actually doing it was by assigning all unspecified rides to Able Medical Transportation. Able had a horrendous record and a corrupt owner who, according to stories going around, had a corrupt working relationship with Wayne Freeman. So did Tim Perry-Coon.
Tim Perry-Coon was the government connection. He works in Albany in the Medicaid section of the New York State Department of Health as the transportation manager for Central New York. When I tracked him down and called him up to complain about Medicaid transportation dispatch in Central New York, he flatly told me there were no problems. He didn’t even ask me, the citizen for whom he was supposed to be working, what the problems were; he just announced there weren’t any.
Then I talked to the owner of one of the local transportation companies and he said, “Oh yeah, Wayne Freeman and Tim Perry-Coon are in bed together.” The man who was supposed to monitor Freeman for the benefit of the citizens instead had an unnatural relationship with Freeman.
Perry-Coon had ended our conversation by snapping at me to put my complaint in writing so, on February 27, 2005, I tried:
Tim Perry-Coon, Transportation Manager
Office of Medicaid Management
99 Washington Ave., Suite 706
Dear Mr. Perry-Coon:
I am a disabled resident of Onondaga County. I have been using Medicaid transportation for about six years. I am requesting an investigation of the Onondaga County Medicaid transportation dispatch center, and the Medicaid director for poor management, refusal to work cooperatively with clients, and significant failure of the system.
Long holds on the telephone line
Special phone number for doctors
Dispatch blaming the vendor and the vendor blaming dispatch and no way to find out what’s true
The requisite order is supposed to come from Medicaid dispatch. Medicaid dispatch is supposed to receive it from me. Well, all right, I tried to place the order. Four days ago, I called Medicaid dispatch, which is now run by Rural Metro. Until fourteen days ago, OMB had the contract to run Medicaid dispatch. OMB was terrible. They were a derivative of the Medical Society and they thought they were special. They worked for doctors. One dispatcher told me they had two thousand doctor’s accounts.
Kathy and me thought they worked for the people. Kathy is the Medicaid director in the County Department of Social Services. OMB gave one phone number to the doctors and a different phone number to the patients. OMB answered the doctor’s phone in thirty seconds; they left the patients on hold for up to 41 minutes. In the world of doctors, Medicaid patients are only slightly less valued than gerbils. A gerbil, after all, can be used for research.
Kathy and I shared the peculiar notion that since county taxes were paying OMB to provide services to disabled citizens, they should receive the same quality of service as doctors. A buck’s a buck, whether it comes from the doctor or the county, and it should buy an equal level of service. These and other matters made Kathy decide to break the contract with OMB. I helped her. I am a very helpful person. My landlord is trying to make me move out because I am so helpful to people. Helping people is lots of fun, but has a high shit-rate.
Kathy violated the contract with OMB and let a new contract to Rural Metro. OMB and its doctors worked in the darkness of pre-civilization and only used phones; Rural Metro, an ambulance company, shed the light of civilization on the problem and established contact via e-mail and fax, in addition to phone. So four days ago I called Medicaid dispatch, which is now run by Rural Metro.
Their phone was answered by a tape recording, which is to be expected. If a real human being answered it, the patient would probably have a cardiac event and need an ambulance instead of a transport company. (Transport companies, by the way, come in four levels: taxi, escort, wheelchair and stretcher. Escort means a nice man walks you into wherever you’re going, and comes to fetch you from the waiting room afterward. This works well for people of disturbed mind, or weak knees who don’t wait well in a standing posture.)
So, being a nice person, as well as helpful, I fall back to one of Rural Metro’s other options: I submit my ride request by e-mail. Plinketa-plunk, hit the send button and it’s all taken care of. I think. But now Speedy Curtis is at my door telling me it’s not all taken care of. Well, all right, no need to go postal about this. I tell Speedy Curtis to put me in for a three-way ride from home to hospital to doctor to home (the “to’s” being the 1-2-3 ways) and I’ll call Medicaid dispatch and get it covered with an order.
It is 2:10 p.m. I call Medicaid dispatch and get their ‘Please call back now’ tape. I call back. I call back twice. I keep getting the tape, so I decide that maybe what that tape really means is “hold for the operator,” so I hold. I hold for twelve minutes, then decide we just reached my hold limit. Had OMB not previously abused me, I might have held longer but should I really have to? Why aren’t they answering their phone?
I call Kathy. She told me to call if there were problems in the transition to Rural Metro. There is a problem, so I call.
- I called Medicaid transport and the call was not answered.
- I e-mailed Medicaid transport but they didn’t act on the message.
- I called Medicaid transport and the call was not answered.
- I called the Medicaid director and got voice mail.
- I called the Supervisor of the Day and he was out.
- I called the substitute and got her voice mail.
- I called the substitute’s substitute and got voice mail.
- Between all these calls, I got tape recordings.
If Rural Metro had a clearer message on their answering machine, this all might have been avoided. If Rural Metro had enough people working to answer the phone with a live voice, this might have been avoided. If Kathy and George and Stephanie and everybody in the whole world would stop using voice mail, this all could have been avoided. If people talked to people instead of machines . . .