Bizzarro urges halt to changes in medical transportation program

Cites disruption in services, possible budget impacts

HARRISBURG, Jan. 30 – Citing fears over a disruption in services, rider confusion, and possible cost increases, state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, is co-sponsor of a proposed bill that would delay implementation of changes to the state’s Medical Assistance Transportation Program. 

The program – which offers shared rides to medical appointments for Medical Assistance recipients when other means are unavailable – currently operates at a local level that takes account of each region’s geographic needs. A new law requires the state Department of Human Services to move to a statewide or full-risk brokerage model – a move that concerns Bizzarro.

“Given the program’s critical importance to residents, it’s incumbent on us to consider how this move will impact Erie and other geographically diverse regions of the state before implementing sweeping changes,” said Bizzarro, who together with the Northwest Democratic Caucus recently wrote DHS Secretary Theresa D. Miller urging a delay in implementing the changes. “A one-size-fits-all approach won’t work and is likely to do more harm than good.

“Residents who rely on public transportation already have to navigate fixed-route bus schedules and shared ride options. Adding yet another provider into the mix for a limited group of riders creates an unnecessary level of complexity. Worse still, if the transit agencies lose the ability to provide MATP services, this could have a devastating impact on their budget and ability to serve the counties. The result could be cutbacks in service areas and hours of service, steep fare hikes, and funding requests from the commonwealth. 

“I’m supporting this proposed bill because I believe we need to delay implementation of these changes until we understand their impact on Erie residents.”

The impetus for the change comes from Act 40 of 2018 of the Human Services Code, which requires DHS to seek to revamp its system using a statewide or regional broker system.

A copy of the letter is available here.