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'I gave them several chances': Jacksonville family struggles with Medicaid-paid transportation

Alicia Lipscomb is a single mother who doesn’t have a car. She and her daughter rely on free transportation provided by Staywell to get to health appointments.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Jacksonville mother is frustrated because she says her daughter – living with a mental health illness – has been stranded before and after her therapy sessions.

The First Coast News On Your Side has been looking into the problems that have been piling up for Alicia Lipscomb with the Florida Medicaid-paid transportation service.

This summer, Lipscomb's 12-year-old daughter has been going to Hope Haven every weekday for therapy and behavior sessions.

The single mother doesn’t have a car, and so they both have to depend on the free transportation provided by Staywell, the company that provides health care services to people who qualify for Florida Medicaid. 

However, Lipscomb claims, the rides aren't always reliable. 

Most recently, Lipscomb said her daughter was waiting for a ride home in tears hours after the local medical clinic had closed. She then had to pay for someone else to pick her up.

“They just left her, and they had the nerve to call me four hours later to say, 'Did you receive your daughter?'" Lipscomb explained. "I'm like, 'I'm astonished.'”

Her daughter also missed a therapy session one day, according to Lipscomb, when a ride didn’t pick her up from their apartment.

“You always have to contact them and stay on them," she said

Lipscomb added, she’s also run into her own problems with the third-party transportation services provided by Staywell.

“I had an appointment reservation to go to Gainesville," Lipscomb recalled. "The appointment was supposed to be at four o'clock – they never showed. And this was on Jun. 9."

She had to reschedule her gastric bypass surgery for this month, according to Lipscomb.

She decided to do something after there became a trend of issues when her 12-year-old started using the services.

“I do not play with my daughter, I'm a very concerned parent," Lipscomb explained.

At the end of June, she filed a grievance with Staywell.

The On Your Side team also reached out to the health care company regarding Lipscomb’s case.

A Staywell spokesperson sent back the following statement:

While we cannot comment on individual care plans due to privacy laws, at Staywell Health Plan, the health and wellbeing of our members is our top priority. 

At Staywell, we provide more than 50,000 rides per month to our members to ensure a lack of transportation is not a barrier to their health.

We continuously monitor our vendors to ensure they are delivering high-quality services to our members and are regularly meeting quality benchmarks. If issues arise with vendors, including transportation vendors, we actively evaluate and investigate to alleviate concerns.

Members are able to schedule future and same-day rides through ModivCare Member Services or by using ModivCare’s mobile app. Members can get assistance with rides in progress by calling ModivCare’s Real-Time Ride Assistance Line.

  • Ride Schedule Line: 1-877-659-8420 (TTY: 1-866-288-3133)
  • Real-Time Ride Assistance (Where’s My Ride): 1-877-659-8421 (TTY: 1-866-288-3133)

For additional information or questions regarding transportation through Staywell, members can contact Staywell Member Services at 1-866-334-7927 (TTY 711), Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET or visit https://www.wellcare.com/Florida/Members/Medicaid-Plans/Staywell/Benefits/Transportation-MMA-SMI.

Lipscomb also received a letter from the company saying that her complaint will be reviewed and she’ll be sent a follow-up no later than Sept. 22.