3.7 min readPublished On: October 6, 2018

Oct. 5, 2018 – The Non-Emergent Transportation Program (NET) is a statewide program for Medicaid recipients which provides transportation to and from Medicaid-covered services, such as doctor, dental or counseling appointments for adults and children. NET services are available for individuals who have an active Medicaid card or who have met their spenddown obligation in the same month of the transportation service. Those who are on a Medicaid Managed Care Plan may be eligible for 15 round-trip rides or 30 one-way rides.

AxessPointe Community Health Centers, Inc. has partnered together with Portage Area Regional Transit Authority (PARTA) to promote free NET services to Medicaid patients in Portage County. PARTA is one of three companies in Portage County that is authorized through Portage County Job & Family Services (PCJFS) to provide door-to-door NET services. Emerald Transportation and Swift Care Transport LLC are the other two providers. With door-to-door service, the transportation provider will pick the patient up at their home, drop the patient off at the medical office and will be there to take the patient back home.

PCJFS is responsible for all NET service eligibility and coordination. The process to schedule a door-to-door ride is quite simple. Eligible Medicaid patients will need to call the PCJFS office 10 days in advance at 330- 297-3785 to ensure there is enough time to work out the schedule. Callers will be directed to leave a message on a secure voicemail system with the details of their appointment and the best contact number they can be reached at. The PCJFS office will return calls with information on who is picking the patient up and confirm the time and location.

There are also two other types of NET services available. They include PARTA and gas cards. With PARTA, patrons can receive tickets or tokens for rides within Portage County. The tickets will be mailed directly to the recipient. Users simply need to call 10 days prior to their appointment. Portage County is one of two counties in the State of Ohio that provides gas cards. With the gas cards, Medicaid patients who have a vehicle can request a gas card seven days prior to their appointment. The amount of the gas card is dependent upon mileage and current gas prices. Once approved, the patient can pick up their free gas card at the PCJFS office.

“Our NET transportation staff is here to ensure eligible Medicaid recipients have access to medical care, by determining their eligibility and coordinating door-to-door transportation or by providing gas cards for appointments with a Medicaid provider,” states Christine Herra, NET Transportation Supervisor at PCJFS. “Our goal is to ensure all citizens have access to transportation to get to their medical appointments. NET is a service that many residents know little about and we want to continue to educate the community about this valuable, untapped resource.”

“We are here to lend a helping hand to all of our Portage County residents,” states Frank Hairston, Director of Marketing at PARTA. “Our hope is that by working together and providing rides to medical appointments, we can improve the health of the people in our communities, so they can live stronger, healthier lives.”

“Our goal is to make sure that a ride to our office for an appointment stops being a barrier for our patients,” expresses Chris Richardson, CEO of AxessPointe. “We always want our patients to show for their appointments, so they can receive the care and treatment they need, and if partnering with PARTA to promote NET services increases access to care for our patients, then we’re in.”

As of June 2018, there were 29,913 individuals or roughly 18% of the population, on a Medicaid Managed Care Plan in Portage County. The number of NET rides has fluctuated over the summer months, but nonetheless, have been very steady. In June there were 588 rides, in July 563 and in August 676. March proved to be the busiest month so far in 2018 with 892 NET rides provided.

AxessPointe Community Health Centers, Inc. is a federally qualified health center (FQHC) serving more than 18,500 patients in 2017 throughout Summit and Portage counties. AxessPointe has five current sites in Northeast Ohio, including three in Akron, one in Kent and one in Barberton. An FQHC is a non-profit corporation that delivers primary medical, dental and preventive health services in medically underserved areas. AxessPointe also provides pharmacy, women’s health and behavioral health services. For more information visit axesspointe.org. To learn more about PARTA, visit www.partaonline.org.