Medical Assistance Transportation Program (MATP) Brokerage 2019
Transportation Advocates Call on Elected Officials to Stop and Study the Plan to Broker the Medical Assistance Transportation Program (MATP)
Community members in southwestern Pennsylvania are asking state legislators and Governor Wolf to pause the plan to broker the Medical Assistance Transportation Program (MATP), in order to study the impacts this change will have on the entire Commonwealth.
Last June, language was inserted in a Human Service Code bill (HB 1677) mere hours before the bill was passed, providing no opportunity for input by voters. This legislation will privatize Pennsylvania’s MATP, which is currently operated by local coordinated public shared-ride transportation systems. The decision to move to a brokerage did not take into account the negative effects such a move will have on the coordinated transportation service. “There is no way an uncoordinated system of private providers can meet our needs in rural areas,” states Patrick Griffith, a former employee of Tri-County Access and a well-known advocate for transportation issues.
The brokerage model has not been successful in other states, and in fact has led to increased costs, significant increases in complaints, and has left consumers without dependable transportation. For example, after Texas changed to a broker model, costs increased 400%, complaints increased 300%, and ridership declined 50%.
Numerous senior citizens and people with disabilities depend on the coordinated shared-ride public transportation service that exists in Pennsylvania. If MATP trips are removed from the local system, transit systems will have to increase fares and reduce service to make up for the loss. In some rural counties like Greene and Fayette, the loss of MATP trips may result in the complete shutdown of all transportation service. ”Public transportation is vital to keeping me healthy and active in my community,” says Kate Blaker, a senior with disabilities who works part-time and serves on the board of the League of Women Voters.
Removing MATP from the coordinated system will also cause significant disruption and confusion. Currently, people needing transportation make one phone call for all their transportation needs. By moving to a brokerage delivery model for MATP, community members will need to make multiple phone calls to arrange for transportation, which can be particularly confusing for older adults and individuals with special needs. Those needing this critical service will easily get lost in the overly complicated system.
Currently, there are over 100 Pennsylvania state legislators that have signed on to sponsor two bills to delay the implementation of the brokerage model and study the overall impacts to the Commonwealth. Both Senate Bill 390 and House Bill 986 have bi-partisan support.
With such significant concerns raised regarding this change, as well as the overwhelming bi-partisan support to delay and study this issue, it is imperative that all Pennsylvania legislators and the Governor take immediate action to delay the brokerage and examine the overall impacts.
“These programs are a lifeline for me to provide for my family and meet my medical needs. A brokerage will be a huge mistake,” says Connie Ruffalo, who works as a supervisor at Transitional Paths to Independent Living (TRPIL) and regularly uses shared ride services in multiple counties.
TRPIL is currently helping to gather stories of those who will be impacted by the proposed plan in order to get those stories in front of key legislators.