HARTFORD, CT —(Updated 5:30 p.m.) Veyo, the company with the three-year, $140-million contract to provide Medicaid patients rides to their doctors, is now declining to attend public meetings where the public and its customers have a chance to ask questions.
Rep. Cathy Abercrombie, D-Meriden, is hoping the company, which has a contract with the Department of Social Services to provide rides to around 800,000 Medicaid recipients, changes its mind.
“There’s no reason for them not to come to the meetings,” Abercrombie said.
She said they can put parameters on what is asked of the company at those meetings, but believes they should be answering questions about the service they are providing or not providing.
The company has been criticized by Medicaid patients for failing to pick them up on time for their non-emergency medical appointments. It’s also been criticized for putting transportation providers out of business by not giving them business they previously received.
Abercrombie said the pending class-action lawsuit in which Veyo was added recently as a defendant, does not preclude them from voluntarily attending the Medicaid Assistance Program Oversight Council or the Behavioral Health Partnership Oversight Council and their subcommittees.
She said they are not asking the company to release strategies or negotiations related to the pending litigation.
“We urge Veyo to honor its agreement to attend meetings of the councils and its subcommittee to answer questions relating to information that for all intents and purposes is public information,” Abercrombie and Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, D-Westport, wrote in a letter. “The Council agrees to limit its questions to matters concerning Veyo’s performance of its contractual obligations and would allow Veyo to bring legal representation to intercede on their behalf should they feel necessary.”
Veyo CEO Josh Komenda said in his letter back to lawmakers Tuesday that they plan to attend future meetings with their legal counsel.
“As you know, there is pending litigation, and on advice of counsel there are some issues that we cannot discuss. As such, we plan to attend future meetings along with our legal counsel to ensure we do not
impact the current legal process. But I want to be clear; Veyo will continue to work in good faith with government officials to achieve our shared goals.”
As far as what’s discussed at the meetings, Komenda said, that the pending litigation concerns the same subject matter as many of these council meetings so it is possible “that the lines of questioning could concern the subject of the litigation, strategy, or negotiations. As a result Veyo may not be able to discuss issues or answer questions identified in future meetings because of the pending litigation on the advice from legal counsel.”
Lawmakers like Rep. William A. Petit Jr. said his office hears two or three complaints per week from residents unable to get to their doctor appointments.
Kathy Flaherty, executive director of the Connecticut Legal Rights Project, said people are frustrated to the point where they are not even complaining anymore.
“It’s so broken I don’t know how you make the system work,” Flaherty said.
The Department of Social Services, which manages the Veyo contract, said DSS staff will continue to provide data about the number of rides provided and the wait times for service on the department’s website.
A spokesman for DSS also said they would continue to attend the meetings and provide all of the data reported by Veyo, performance indicators, etc. The data will also be posted at www.ct.gov/dss/nemt.