CLARK COUNTY, Ind. (WAVE) – Tens of thousands of Medicaid patients in Southern Indiana are missing important rides to doctor’s appointments, often because the state-funded Medicaid drivers aren’t showing up.
Francis Metten claims the system is failing her. She says since July, five times her driver has been late, canceled or failed to show at all.
But the 66-year-old says those issues don’t even scratch the surface of every other problem she has had with the system.
For 10 years, Metten has lived in a Clark County assisted living facility on a Medicaid waiver which only leaves her $52 a month to live on.
“I feel like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz when I wake up at 3 or 4 in the morning,” Metten said. “I'm hurting so bad and so stiff; I feel like someone needs to oil me up so I can move again.”
She relies on the transportation company Southeastrans to get to her pain management appointments. Metten says she schedules weeks ahead, but the rides are not reliable.
Determined to stay out of a wheelchair, she often misses her pain medication shots that allow her to keep her mobility.
“I, unfortunately, don’t have family around, so there’s nobody. And with $52 a month I cannot afford to take a cab,” Metten said.
Metten even claims one Southeastrans driver dropped her off at the wrong location and refused to take her to the correct one.
“If I don’t get to these appointments, and I don’t get help, it makes me feel like you're saying, ‘Is that because were disabled or elderly or poor that we aren't worthy of getting to these appointments?’” Metten said.
The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration says they signed a contract with Southeastrans in June 2018 to make the ride scheduling easier and more accessible. However, the FSSA got more than they bargained for when the number of people scheduling rides jumped up from 3,000 a month to 11,000.
Between March and June of 2019, there were 1,946 rides missed because the driver was late or didn’t show up. 30,745 rides were missed because a provider wasn’t assigned.
Southeastrans manages a provider network that, right now, doesn’t meet the demand which is around 11,000 rides a week statewide.
Trying to grow that network, the FSSA says, is the main goal. The total number of credentialed drivers in Southeastrans’ network was just over 1,000 in September 2018 and is now 1,650.
However, Metten wants to see something change now. She says she's at risk of losing her pain management program because she's missed so many appointments.
The thought of losing the only treatment to ease her constant pain plagues her.
“If it was close enough to ride a bike, I would buy me a bike and ride it there,” Metten said. “I would do anything to get to these appointments, but I’m out of options at this point.”