PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rick Gouin relies on Medical Transportation Management, also known as MTM, a couple of times a week to get to his doctors appointments.
Gouin tells target 12 he scheduled this week’s rides about a month ago, and when the driver didn’t show up Wednesday, he wasn’t surprised.
And punctuality is only one of the many issues he has with the state’s non-emergency medical transportation service.
“I’ve had this thing almost flip,” Gouin said, referencing his power wheelchair. “They don’t strap you in all the way. You slide back and forth because they are driving so fast.”
Gouin isn’t the only Rhode Islander who’s frustrated with MTM.
Since its rocky rollout in 2019, the Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) has received thousands of complaints from patients alleging that some drivers either arrive late or not at all.
While the number of complaints has dropped significantly since then, hundreds of Rhode Islanders are still frustrated with the service. Between January 2021 and February 2022, EOHHS received nearly 2,000 complaints against the company.
Despite this, the state recently extended its contract with the problem-plagued medical transportation service until June 2023. The reasoning, according to EOHHS spokesperson Kerri White, is because the state needs more time to “re-procure for non-emergency medical transportation services.”
The extension is costing the state an estimated $36 million.
MTM has come under intense scrutiny over the past couple of years. The company was fined $600,000 late last year in the wake of a deadly crash involving a driver that was reportedly under the influence.
And that’s not the only time MTM has been penalized.
In March 2019, MTM was fined $1 million for its problem-plagued launch in Rhode Island, which included complaints about rides being late or patients being left stranded. Later that year, MTM dropped one of its drivers after Target 12 obtained a photo that showed a child crouching on the floor of a packed vehicle.
The R.I. House Oversight Committee grilled EOHHS and MTM leaders about the extension during a hearing Wednesday night.
Rep. Patricia Serpa questioned Medicaid Director Kristin Souza as to why the state waited until two months out to extend the contractg.
“Why are we waiting until last minute?” she asked.
“There has been significant improvement in the contract with MTM and their performance,” Souza replied. “They were also very critical during the public health emergency in helping us get individuals to testing sites.”
So far, EOHHS estimates that the state has paid MTM $112.5 million for its services over the years.
12 News reached out to MTM for comment but has yet to hear back.
Sarah Doiron contributed to this report.