May 28--Continuing a period of rapid growth for the organization, the Texoma Area Paratransit System announced that it has been awarded a 36-month tentative contract with the Health and Human Services Commission. Under the contract, TAPS will provide non-emergency medical transportation services to approximately 55,000 eligible Medicaid recipients in a 16-county area.
"I think this is another link in the chain for us," TAPS Executive Director Brad Underwood said.
While TAPS has served the region for nearly three decades, Underwood described Medicaid transportation as the "missing piece" of the groups services. From 2000 until 2012, TAPS provided non-emergency Medicaid transportation services under a contract with Irving Holdings, based out of Dallas.
Under the tentative contract, TAPS will provide transportation services for non-emergency medical cases for eligible Medicaid recipients in Archer, Baylor, Clay, Collin, Cooke, Cottle, Fannin, Foard, Grayson, Hardeman, Jack, Montague, Wilbarger, Wichita, Wise and Young counties. TAPS will service one of 11 regions in the state of Texas. The contract will be for 36 months with two, one-year extensions possible, said Underwood.
"This is not only a win for TAPS, but for the entire region," said Underwood.
Underwood said TAPS will need to expand its infrastructure, including the expansion of some of its rural hubs, to handle the increase in services from the contract. Underwood said more than 100 new positions for drivers, call center specialists and other support staff will be created under the new contract. While the group is expanding, the majority of these positions will be in Grayson County, which will remain the headquarters for the agency, said Underwood.
"That would make for a major employer alone," Sherman Economic Development Corp. President Scott Connell said about the new jobs created by this contract.
Connell said the expansion of TAPS would result in a reduction in the local unemployment rate, and that he expects it to have a larger economic impact that will be felt throughout the region.
"We sometimes find that the economic impact from the jobs is greater than the tax base from a company," said Connell, who went on to say that the services that TAPS provides is unique for a market of this size.
Underwood said TAPS must demonstrate readiness for the contract by July 1. TAPS will start taking calls for the expanded services on Aug. 1, with runs starting on Sept. 1.
"This is a game changer for our small urban/rural transit district," said Underwood in a press release. When the contract is finalized next week, TAPS will become the largest transportation agency of its kind in the state, and in the top five small urban/rural transit districts in the nation, said Underwood.
Copyright 2014 - Herald Democrat, Sherman, Texas