Elderly and sick Medi-Cal recipients in LA County are at the mercy of a private company that endangers their health and fails to deliver them to life-saving appointments

LOS ANGELES, CA – Patients in wheelchairs are left to roll around, unsecured, in inadequate vans. Dialysis patients consistently miss their life-saving appointments, or are left at the curb for hours awaiting a ride home. Amputees, patients suffering from paralysis due to stroke, nursing home residents, and patients with end stage renal failure—all of whom depend on Medi-Cal-covered transportation to critical medical appointments—are left in the care of a private company that cuts costs by providing grossly inadequate services to Los Angeles County’s most vulnerable residents.

LogistiCare—a company already under fire for its transportation practices in states across the country—is the exclusive provider of non-emergency medical transportation services for more than a million low-income, elderly, and disabled Los Angeles County residents. But the company has for years failed to deliver on its legal obligations, hiring local vendors and drivers who cut costs by using inadequate vehicles and hiring untrained drivers.

As a result, vulnerable patients have been physically injured, suffered anxiety and stress, and have been forced to cancel or postpone urgently needed medical care, resulting in serious health consequences.

“If you miss treatments you get sick, your body shuts down,” said Rose Ratcliff of her dialysis sessions. She is missing a leg and is blind in one eye. “That machine becomes part of your life. Without that machine, you die.”

Ratcliff is among plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed today to stop LogistiCare from harming Medi-Cal patients in Los Angeles County, and to compel the private company—which has for years ignored countless complaints—to provide the safe, timely transportation it is legally required to provide.

“These people have no choice but to depend on LogistiCare to get to their critical medical appointments. When the company fails them, they are desperate—and they have nowhere else to turn,” said Toni Vargas, an attorney with Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, which is representing plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “This clear disregard for people’s health is unconscionable. And the outcomes are devastating.”

Complaints about LogistiCare abound from other states where the company holds major contracts to provide transportation services for Medicaid recipients. A recent New Jersey study showed that a shocking 53 percent of respondents missed important doctor’s appointments due to LogistiCare’s systemic failures.

Read coverage of the lawsuit in the Los Angeles Times and Kaiser Health News