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LEBANON— The nonemergency transit system in Hardin and surrounding counties is changing. And while the changes are minimal for passengers, the primary transit provider in the area, Transit Authority of Central Kentucky, is facing cutbacks.
TACK has been forced to lay off employess after losing a bid to LKLP Community Action Council — a nonprofit corporation based in Perry County — to broker non-emergency transit services for Hardin, Breckenridge, Larue, Grayson, Marion, Meade and Nelson counties, said Rick Baker, administrative assistant for LKLP. TACK previously provided the service from its main office in Lebanon. As a result, LKLP is tasked with ensuring that Medicaid clients receive transportation for non-emergency Medicaid-eligible services, such as doctor’s visit and dialysis, in the seven-county region, also known as Region 4, by securing all appointments. The change in service went into effect today.
Last year, state government requested proposals to receive bids on the service. TACK filled out the proper paperwork, but lost to LKLP in December.
Tom Moorman, executive director for the Central Kentucky Community Action Council, said the state sent TACK an outdated score sheet, and TACK still came within 30 points of LKLP. A state-formed committee scores the bids and the company with the highest score gets the job.
But TACK did not give up. Moorman said TACK has been the region's transit broker for about eight years and received few complaints, so it filed a protest early this year with the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet. As the situation progressed, TACK supplemented itsprotest, but ultimately was rejected by the Finance and Administration Cabinet, which Moorman said is common.
Communicare, a mental health center in Elizabethtown that provides mental health, mental retardation and substance abuse services, also filed for operator authority, which allows it to transport its own clients. Moorman said Communicare filed for the authority because LKLP would not guarantee Communicare that TACK would be the transit provider for its clients.
Baker said Communicare will receive the authority to provide its own transportation once it is approved by Medicaid and a Medicaid number is received. He said he wasn’t sure of the details of Communicare’s decision to transport its own clients, but other similar facilities provide their own transportation.
Some of TACK’s drivers have left to work for Communicare, Moorman said, while others have been laid off. He believes more drivers will be laid off, but doesn’t know how many — making the situation even more frustrating.
Moorman said TACK feels as if it has been stabbed in the back by a sister organization.
Baker said LKLP Community Action Council serves counties throughout the state and applied for several regions when it was awarded the bid. The company will not provide direct transportation to the counties unless absolutely necessary, but will use transit providers already established in the counties, primarily TACK.
However, clients will be able to request a different provider under freedom of choice, Baker said. Clients also will have to provide a referral form prepared by their primary physician to give to the company if the client needs to consult a specialist.
TACK will continue to provide transit service, and Moorman said it was important because, for some of the counties, it is the only provider available.
“We’re still in the transportation business,” he said.
And TACK could pursue an agreement with Fort Knox. Moorman said TACK has a good relationship with the post and could "pick up the slack" from losing the bid by providing services there.
TACK also may consider private transportation, which it hasn't had time to pursue before, he said.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762.