WATERVILLE — With a little over two weeks remaining in the fiscal year, the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program’s transportation services, which provide rides for residents of Kennebec and Somerset counties, has stopped providing rides for some low-income people because funding has run out.

Jim Wood, the organization’s transportation director, said the money allocated for low-income people who qualify for the ride service had been spent, but enough money remains for critical treatment transportation, such as rides for cancer or dialysis patients, and for MaineCare patients and child welfare recipients. The shortfall affects lower-income riders and has happened in the past, Wood said, but it is more pronounced this year.

“There’s more demand for services than our funding will cover,” Wood said.

The major portion of the funds comes from a grant from the state Department of Health and Human Services. Of the $225,000 allocated for this particular service, Wood said, $190,000 comes from DHHS. The remainder comes from private donors.

“We’re very late in our fiscal year,” Wood said, adding that the agency doesn’t have enough resources to cover rides in the remaining weeks of June. The new fiscal year begins July 1.

Wood said a couple hundred people in the region signed up for the service affected by the shortfall. While the organization is hopeful those who use the service will be able to reschedule appointments for early July, for some this is a major problem.

Bruce Keezer, a Clinton resident, said KVCAP called Wednesday afternoon to tell him his rides were canceled. He had a nonmedical appointment scheduled for Thursday morning and a driver did show up, but he had canceled his appointment.

Keezer worries that by missing some upcoming appointments, he may be kicked out of a program that took him eight months to get into. Since the appointments are in Waterville, he said, taking a cab was unrealistic.

“I can’t be the only one that’s not coming to an appointment,” he said.

Keezer has an appointment for surgery in July, which should not be affected by the shortfall.

“I never complain just for myself,” he said. “It’s other people getting hurt.”

Keezer said the phone call he received from KVCAP on Wednesday indicated those who lost services for the next two weeks would have to file new applications if and when funding comes back.

Keezer said he has not had problems with KVCAP before. He said sometimes rides might be late, but he chalked that up to miscommunication. Overall, KVCAP has been responsive, he said, and he couldn’t complain.

“Sometimes things happen,” Keezer said.

This is not the first time KVCAP has had problems providing rides. The organization has coordinated and provided transportation for patients in Somerset and Kennebec counties for more than 40 years, but then received hundreds of complaints in 2013 after the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services made changes to avoid a conflict of interest that caused changes in how rides were scheduled for MaineCare patients across the state. In 2013, Coordinated Transportation Solutions, a Connecticut-based company, began coordinating those rides.

That change resulted in many problems, including scheduled transportation providers not showing up, patients being either late for or missing appointments and children being dropped off at the wrong home. Missed rides also meant doctors, physical therapists, mental health counselors, nonprofit groups and others lost money, as they can’t bill for a patient who doesn’t show up.

In 2014, it was announced that Coordinated Transportation Solutions’ six regional contracts would not be renewed when they expired.

The Penquis Transportation Brokerage, which operates in Kennebec and Somerset counties, coordinates all rides for MaineCare appointments. It utilizes Lynx Mobility Services, volunteer drivers, taxi services, the Community Connector and reimbursements to friends and family. Lynx Mobility Services also coordinates or sets up trips for non-MaineCare transportation in Penobscot and Piscataquis counties.

KVCAP operates the Kennebec/Somerset Explorer, which is a fixed-route general public bus program; the KV Van, which is a volunteer-driver, door-to-door transportation program; and Move More Kids, a summer public transportation system providing children in Somerset County with access to locations that promote physical activity.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis

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