Parker is a dialysis patient receiving overnight treatment three times a week. Last November she was hospitalized twice after missing two dialysis appointments through no fault of her own.
Parker, 60, is a participant in both the Medicare and Medicaid insurance programs. Parker cannot drive because of recent back surgery. As a result, a company paid by the state's Missouri Medicaid program, MoHealth Net, picks her up and is supposed to take her to dialysis treatments.
But in November, Parker's ride started showing up late, and twice just before Thanksgiving her driver simply didn't show up at her Kansas City home.
She said the missed appointments caused her potassium level to drop. After each missed appointment, she became critically ill and was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance.
Now Parker insists she should not have to pay for those two ambulance rides to the hospital because they would not have been needed if Logisticare Solutions LLC had done what the state pays them to do.
Instead, Logisticare should pay the bills, Parker said.
"I'm not changing my mind about the fact that they should be held accountable," she said.
Logisticare is an Atlanta-based company that began managing the Medicaid transportation program in Missouri, just as Parker's problems began. And as KCTV5 previously reported, during the company's first 90 days on the job, 783 patients filed complaints, with 212 people claiming their Medicaid-funded rides did not show, resulting in missed medical appointments.
Like Parker, at least two other people were hospitalized.
Public records show Missouri pays out almost $30 million annually to Logisticare.
The Missouri Medicaid Office would not agree to an interview for this story, referring all of KCTV5's questions to Logisticare. In an email to KCTV5, Logisticare claims the issues leading to Parker's hospitalization, as well as most of the other 783 complaints, have been fixed.
But Parker said that does her little good, as neither Logisticare nor the state will return her phone calls concerning the outstanding ambulance bills.
"I have made phone calls and left messages," Parker said. "And I have yet to hear from them."
With state Medicaid officials refusing to discuss Parker's bills, KCTV5 contacted Missouri Rep. Ryan Silvey, a Republican from Kansas City.
"Obviously if it's a $30 million contract of taxpayer money, the buck should stop with them," said Silvey, referring to state officials. "They should be the ones answering questions."
A member of the House Standing Committee on Government Oversight and Accountability, Silvey said he's glad to see Parker sticking up for herself.
"She should raise a ruckus, that's exactly what she should do," he said.
Silvey says the state agency needs to do a better job answering answer questions about Logisticare, its operations and government oversight of the program.
"To hear these stories coming back to us, that the tax payers we represent are not getting the services they deserve, that we appropriated for, is extremely frustrating," Silvey said.
Four days after KCTV5 first spoke with Silvey, Parker finally got a phone call from the state Medicaid billing office.
"They told me not to worry," Parker said. "And they promised me Medicaid would see to it that the bills all got paid."
She has her doubts about the assurances.
"I'll believe that when I see it, because they haven't done anything yet but cause me anxiety," Parker said.
For her part, Parker does not think Medicaid, and by extension Missouri tax payers, should be paying her ambulance bills. According to her, Logisticare should pay up, because if they had been doing their job and their driver showed up back in November, Parker would not have landed in the hospital.
For that reason, Parker said she plans to keep fighting the company until they take responsibility and apologize.
"It's not how big the dog is in the fight," Parker said. "It's how big the fight is in the dog. And on that point, I am willing to fight."
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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