Benzie County Medicaid Riders Ride Free to Medical Appointments
Benzie Bus with the Bay Area Transportation Authority and Manistee Dial-a-ride will launch on Monday, September 21, 2015 Michigan’s first inter-county Medicaid medical transportation service into Grand Traverse and Manistee Counties.
Nancy Hunt, Mobility Manager, Benzie Bus said, “We are the first transit agency in the State of Michigan offering Medicaid patients free transportation inside and outside Benzie County.”
The three transit agencies have coordinated seamless service allowing hourly links with BATA in Grand Traverse County and Manistee Dial-a-ride on alternating days.
“We will offer rides into Manistee on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Grand Traverse on Wednesdays and Fridays initially,” stated Hunt. This new concept has been advocated by MDOT and could only be accomplished with the vision and assistance of the local Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) office.
To receive transportation Medicaid eligible clients will phone Benzie Bus Mobility Manager Nancy Hunt at 231-227-1030 and she will ask qualifying questions and refer the person to DHS to approve the first ride. Rides should be booked 48-hours in advance for appointments between 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Benzie County rides can be any day and time that Benzie Bus is open, 6 days a week 5 a.m. – 8 p.m.
BATA sees the partnership with Benzie Bus as a stepping stone to eventually providing non-emergency medical transportation to residents in Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties.
“We’re excited to partner with Benzie Bus by providing this valuable community service to connect people across the region to receive the medical care they need in Grand Traverse County,” said Kelly Yaroch, Director of Operations and Human Resources, BATA. “Based on the performance of this initial program we definitely see this as a potential growth opportunity for expansion into the counties we serve within the next one to two years.”
The three transits view non-emergency medical transportation as core mission work. The need for this service was validated by a 2015 Networks Northwest medical transportation study. Initial ridership estimates project accommodating 300 rides each month which can be reimbursed through the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid to offset costs.
“We think this has great potential to be our most self-sufficient service,” said Hunt.
Our Township greatly benefits from Network Northwest's experience, depth of knowledge and understanding. Because they work with so many diverse communities in our ten-county region they understand the local land-use issues and are already working on solutions by the time we realize we need some help.Susan Odom, Chair, Suttons Bay Township Planning Commission