Republican chair knocks lawmaker's plan to expand CATS

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The chair of the Republican Party is against a state lawmaker's idea of expanding the CATS bus system.

Representative Regina Barrow wants to create a route that would include Woman's Hospital.

She hopped on a CATS bus to see what patients who use public transit go through to get to the new Woman's Hospital. She started at the bus stop outside of Earl K Long Hospital. It took her two hours. Representative Barrow said it proves public transportation needs to be expanded.

Republican Chairman for East Baton Rouge Parish, Woody Jenkins, disagrees.

"It did not prove a point because what the real situation is that CATS is not a medical transportation system," Jenkins said.

The state provides medical transportation services free of charge to patients who are on Medicaid. They call an 800 number 48 hours before their doctor's appointment to schedule a ride to and from their appointments. 9News confirmed the program does include transportation to and from Woman's.

Jenkins said the state provides the services to those who qualify.

"There's a means test. So if you don't qualify you should be able to pay for it yourself," Jenkins said.

Representative Barrow argues just because a person isn't on Medicaid doesn't mean they can afford a car.

"That's easy to say when you have your own transportation. It's not that simple for everybody.

When an individual is in the hospital an important part of recovery is having the support system there and many people of course can't get there, don't go," Barrow explained.

Barrow is proposing CATS expand its routes to include Woman's Hospital.

In the meantime, she's suggesting a trolley system where riders would pay a fee to travel from the Mall of Louisiana to Woman's.

Jenkins believes the idea is extreme.

"Just the idea that it would cost $10,000 or $15,000 to create a new route and run buses every 15 minutes doesn't make sense," Jenkins said.

Jenkins said 1.24 million people in Louisiana use the free medical transportation services.

Louisiana Medicaid's Medical Transportation Service Information

Phone Numbers for Scheduling Offices:

  • Alexandria 1-800-466-3490
  • Baton Rouge 1-800-259-1944
  • Lafayette: 1-800-864-6034
  • Lake Charles: 1-800-864-6034
  • Monroe: 1-800-259-1835
  • New Orleans: 1-800-836-9587
  • Shreveport: 1-800-259-7235

How to schedule transportation:

  • Call the transportation scheduling office closest to where you live
  • Call 48 hours before the scheduled medical appointment
  • Provide the Medicaid number and date of birth for person who needs transportation

How to cancel or reschedule transportation

When unable to keep an appointment, call the transportation scheduling office as soon as possible to cancel or reschedule.

The "Friends and Family Transportation Program" also available throughout Louisiana Medicaid pays a friend or family member to take you to the doctor when certain conditions are met. Call 1-888-342-6207 for more information regarding this program.

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