September 18, 2013
It’s unfathomable, yet it appears Sampson’s county commissioners are prepared to bring back to the table discussion of Medicaid Transportation after an intensely debated controversy finally led to a contract award to Van-Go just a few short weeks ago.
The move, should it come to fruition, begs a question — why?
A contract is a contract, and unless current primary provider Van-Go isn’t fulfilling its end of a signed agreement it has with the county, via the Department of Social Services, then there should be absolutely no reason for commissioners to revisit the issue.
Yet it appears our leaders will do just that in October simply because secondary provider, Enroute, has been allowed to submit yet another bid, this one undercutting Van-Go and considerably less than what the county was going to pay Enroute for the service before the contract controversy reared its head back in July.
We don’t blame Enroute owner Ricky Moore for trying to gain a foothold once more in the Medicaid Transportation service he has single-handily held for several years now. After all, he’s a businessman trying to make a living.
But we do blame the county fathers who are charged with being fiscally responsible, fair and reasonable, none of which appears to be at play with this never-ending ordeal over transportation of Medicaid clients.
As taxpayers and citizens of Sampson County, we should be questioning commissioners about why they are spending even more time on an issue that should have been put to rest with the bid award, particularly when there are far more critical issues at hand.
We should also question why Medicaid transportation, which hasn’t been a blip on commissioners’ radar until this year, has become such a hot button topic.
For several years now, Enroute has been routinely awarded the transportation contract, and the price for that service has risen steadily. No one bothered to question the rise in price, and commissioners have virtually rubber-stamped the recommendation by DSS director Sarah Bradshaw each year the contract has been awarded.
It appears they were about to do the same this year. Then came the questions and the controversy. When another provider, Van-Go, entered a far cheaper bid — at $1.65 per mile, versus Moore’s bid of $2.55 — Bradshaw once again recommended the higher priced contract and discussions reached a fevered-pitch. It took hours-long meetings, heated debate, some name-calling and a whole lot of hand-wringing, but finally another set of bids were submitted, with Van-Go still the low bidder at $1.85 to Enroute’s $1.95.
Eventually Van-Go became the primary provider, with Enroute in the secondary spot, as it should have been all along.
Now Moore has been allowed to submit yet another bid, this one at $1.54, a far lower price than what the Enroute president initially submitted. That, too, begs a question — how is this possible now, when just months ago it was going to cost $2.55 for the same service?
These are questions commissioners should ask and be asked if they allow this issue to rear its head once more.
Doing so seems bad business practice for the county, which doesn’t typically revisit awarded bids time and time again. In fact, we cannot recall a time in recent history when this has happened.
Time will tell whether county leaders do the right thing or not.
We’ll all be waiting and watching.