Trips to Medicare-funded doctors failing the elderly

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Your tax dollars pay to get Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries to critical medical appointments, but, for some, those trips never happen.

Missing these doctor visits can have disastrous consequences. We’re not just talking about health checks. A Tampa Bay-area woman says the problem is now delaying her surgery and affecting her vision.

“My left eye – I just had cataract surgery on that. Now it’s very important that I get the right eye, [but] they don’t show up,” Kari Kowalski said.

Kowalski says she spent hours sitting on a bench outside her Clearwater condo, waiting for her taxpayer-funded Medicare ride. In the space of four months, Kowalski says she missed four medical appointments.

When picked up from her home, Kowalski sometimes says she stayed at the clinic for hours.

“Can you imagine waiting for transport to pick you up after you’ve had all your teeth pulled and no one shows up?” Kowalski said. “I live day to day with high blood pressure and wonder if I’m going to get a ride to the doctor or not.”

We contacted Humana about Kowalski’s case. Citing confidentiality, a spokeswoman said details could not be released but: ‘we take situations like this very seriously and are always working diligently to resolve any issues’.

Humana urges patients to call the Transportation Helpline if they have any issues. Kowalski says she tried that.

“’We were there, where were you?’ No…no, I’m being lied to and I don’t like being lied to,” she said. “These transport people don’t care.”

The Agency for Health Care Administration tells 8 On Your Side that the state would have no role in a case like Kowalski’s. Unlike Medicaid, Medicare health plans are a federal program under the Department of Health and Human Services.

8 On your side Investigator Mahsa Saeidi is trying to figure out if this is a widespread problem. Please email [email protected] if you have any transportation issues that you would like to share.

Want more 8 On Your Side surveys? Sign up to receive our weekly 8 On Your Side newsletter.

About John Tuttle

Check Also

Reviews | Where is the mass mobilization movement for Medicare for All?

Long before the Covid pandemic, it was important to ask, where are the mass movements …