The Herkimer County Legislature will vote next week to award a contract for the provision of non-emergency medical transportation to Birnie Bus Service.
The legislature’s committees on Ways and Means and Human Resources on Wednesday evening voted unanimously to accept the Utica-based company’s bid to provide the county’s Medicaid clients transportation to medical and health-related appointments at a cost of $67,000.
Twenty-one bid packets were mailed out and the bid from Birnie Bus was the only bid received.
Budget Officer and Purchasing Agent Bernard Decker said a follow-up was sent to agencies that received packets and did not submit a bid to gauge why they were not interested in the contract.
“The general consensus from the responses that were returned to my office was the agencies were not equipped to fully handle the demands of the contract,” he said.
To receive transportation, Department of Social Services Commissioner Timothy Seymour said clients must be eligible for Medicaid in Herkimer County and must meet all other screening criteria.
He added the county currently contracts with Birnie Bus to provide the service.
“Originally, we had hoped we could extend the contract with Birnie Bus Service, however, the county Attorney’s Office determined the contract could not be extended or renewed,” said Seymour.
He added the cost of the county’s current contract with Birnie Bus for the provision of non-emergency medical transportation to Medicaid eligible clients is roughly $59,000.
Explaining how the program works, Seymour said clients must make arrangements for transportation two full days prior to the trip, as it is best to give as much notice as possible. If a person requires travel outside the area, they must provide a statement from the medical provider, he said.
“If the required treatment can be received locally, Medicaid will not pay for the transportation,” said Seymour. “However, if documented, exceptions can be made for unusual circumstances.”
He said the program records between 800 and 1,000 one-way trips a month.
He also said the state’s planned takeover of the program may have contributed to agencies deciding not to submit a bid, due to the uncertainty of when the takeover will occur.
“This contract could end up lasting the county six months or less, which would make it cost prohibitive for agencies to add infrastructure for such a small amount of time,” said Seymour.
The legislature will meet on Jan. 9 at 2 p.m. at the county office building at 109 Mary St., Herkimer.