The July 18 meeting of the Cuyahoga County Health, Human Services and Aging committee heard presentations related to two important public policy areas, transportation and early childhood.
The first testimony was from Sheronda Isler-Hunter, Non-Emergency Transportation Coordinator for the Cuyahoga County Department of Health and Human Services. Isler-Hunter requested approval of an $8 million contract to AmeriCab for medical non-emergency transportation in her testimony. This is the fifth straight time AmeriCab has received the two-year contract. The contract runs for two years and is 100% reimbursed by federal dollars through Medicaid. The county, through this contract, provides transportation for ambulatory (which means they can get in and out of a vehicle), Medicaid-eligible patients for the purposes of dialysis, chemotherapy, radiation and methadone treatment. The contract runs from September 1 of this year through August 31, 2020.
The county, through this contract, provides transportation for ambulatory (which means they can get in and out of a vehicle), Medicaid-eligible patients for the purposes of dialysis, chemotherapy, radiation and methadone treatment.
Isler-Hunter testified that she has 600 unique clients a month, and cumulatively provides 20,000 trips per month. AmeriCab’s vehicles operate from 4:30 in the morning through midnight and the transportation provider (in this case AmeriCab) must record details of each trip. Medical transportation, creation of Children & Family Services Advisory Board take center stage at Cuyahoga County HHSA Committee meeting Click To Tweet
The Request for Providers (RFP) was released in early May, and two transportation providers submitted bids. One was AmeriCab, which would cost the county $15.66 per one-way trip. The other provider was Emmanuel Ventures, which submitted a bid that would have cost the county $14.99 per one-way trip. Under most circumstances, the county would go with the least expensive of the bids submitted. However, Emmanuel Ventures failed to submit a $150,000 bid bond that was required with the application. For this reason, the bid was declared insufficient. Councilman Dale Miller later questioned the need for such a high bond, as smaller companies may not have access to such resources immediately, and the county may be missing out on alternative bids. The councilman then suggested that the county’s Department of Job and Family Services (JFS) work with smaller providers on the process of securing a bond to meet that requirement in the future.
County council had several other questions, including wanting clarification on if this was the only type of transportation service that is available for the county. Walter Parfejewiec, the newly installed director of Cuyahoga County Health and Human Services, explained that this program is typically utilized by those who are in need of regularly scheduled, non-emergency medical transportation trips. The county also offers transportation vouchers to those who need one-time trips, such as trips to the dentist. HHS Committee Chair Yvonne Conwell was interested in know how people are identified to be eligible for this program. Parfejewiec testified that those who use the program go through a verification process and are referred from Cuyahoga County’s JFS. Additionally, responding to a question from Councilman Miller, the County will also refer seniors who are not eligible for Medicaid, may still be eligible for transportation coverage through the OPTIONS program through the Cuyahoga County Department of Senior and Adult Services (DSAS). Councilwoman Shontel Brown also wanted to clarify if prenatal trips were covered. There are a lot of young mothers who get sick. Yes, Director Parfejewiec said that those trips would be covered.
The contract was passed out of committee and sent to the full Cuyahoga County Council.
The second presentation focused on the creation of a Cuyahoga County Children and Family Services Advisory Board. As proposed by Director of Children and Family Services Cynthia Weiskittel, the 10 member board would be appointed by the County Executive, confirmed by County Council, and meet on a quarterly basis. The Advisory Board would act as a liaison between county administrators and the community. The Board would also track data measurements, as well as changes made at the state and federal level. The board would also share information with the larger community, as well as educating what the agency does and does not do.
The Advisory Board would act as a liaison between county administrators and the community. The Board would also track data measurements, as well as changes made at the state and federal level.
HHSA Chair Councilwoman Yvonne Conwell noted that CFS already had an Advisory Board and fell apart over time. She suggested that there should also be representatives from the community, including the faith based community, on the Advisory Board. Councilwoman Baker wanted to confirm that the Board would be volunteer. Director Weiskittel replied yes, the group would be volunteer, and all meetings would be public.
Councilwoman Brown and other members of the Council praised CFS for the creation of the Advisory Board. Councilman Michael Houser suggested that the Board have term limits, with Councilwoman Brown adding the suggestion of staggering of terms to ensure new perspectives, as well as preservation of institutional knowledge.
The issue was moved to the full Council for second reading. After public comment, the meeting was adjourned.