Medical Transport Difficulties for Some LA Patients
Reprinted from Kaiser Health News – Some days, the drivers showed up late to take Julian Myers to and from dialysis. Other days, they didn’t come at all. When that happened, Myers, who has end-stage kidney disease, scrambled to find a ride.
“My blood pressure was rising and I’d get anxious,” he recalled. “I was frustrated. It’s a regular appointment. They should be here on time.”
Myers complained regularly to LogistiCare, the company contracted to provide his medical transportation, but said the situation didn’t improve.
Medicaid beneficiaries like Myers are entitled to non-emergency, free transportation for medical appointments if they physically can’t get there on their own. But patient advocates and social workers say low-income and vulnerable patients in Los Angeles County have frequently been unable to get to their appointments on time — or at all.
“The uncertainty of when or if LogistiCare is going to come … takes a tremendous toll on people who have no resources,” said Toni Vargas, an attorney at Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, a public interest law firm. “They don’t have the resources to say, ‘Enough is enough. I am going to go with another company.’”
Neighborhood Legal Services recently sued LogistiCare in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleging that the company harmed the county’s Medicaid patients by failing to provide “safe, reliable, and timely transportation.” Among the patients ill-served by the company were a double amputee, a woman partially paralyzed from a stroke and a man with a brain injury, the suit said.
Patients who needed help were left on the curb or waiting for hours for rides, and others were harassed or driven in unsafe vehicles, according to the suit. Two patients allegedly were injured when their wheelchairs weren’t secured in a van.
Access to care for some underserved populations and others continues to be at issue in parts of LA. We’re sharing this story as part of our ongoing look at the intersection of medicine and social issues. You’ll find the full story here.
Kaiser Health News, a nonprofit health newsroom whose stories appear in news outlets nationwide, is an editorially independent part of the Kaiser Family Foundation.