Budget Impasse Impacts Valley Health Care

Fresno, CA, USA The company is the only major transportation provider for wheelchair bound patients in Merced County. But a lack of state funding is putting that service in jeopardy.

Maria Garcia is just 43 years old but kidney failure has forced her to undergo dialysis to clean her blood three times a week. She's one of about 50 patients who rely on Medi-Cab Medical Transport to drive them to and from critical appointments.

Maria Garcia: "We need it to live. I have an 11 year old and a 15 year old, and if I don't come here, if they stop running, I don't get here, I die in a couple of weeks."

Medi-Cab is a state funded service. But owner Roxanne Banks says the budget impasse has frozen those payments.

Roxanne Banks: "We have like 25,000 dollars locked in a computer. We're earning enough to pay for us, but no one can cut the check. The money exists, but they can't write it because there's no budget."

Banks supports herself as a psychologist, but she says she's afraid of what will happen to the elderly and disabled patients if she loses the business her late husband started.

Roxanne Banks: "Our life has been dedicated to these people."

Banks is also worried about her employees. Many of them were hired through a welfare to work program desgined to give them a second chance.

Felipa Avila: "I've been here for two years now and it's the best thing that's happened to me."

Felipa Avila and other staff members say they've already missed a month of pay because of the late budget.

Felipa Avila: "I have 3 kids, and they go to daycare, so food, providing for daycare, and school just started so getting school clothes was very difficult."

But they're determined to find some way to keep helping the patients who's lives depend on their services.

Josephine Chavoya: "We're kind of lost without somebody to help us."

I just spoke with Medi-Cab's owner Roxanne Banks moments ago, and she says the state department of health services has suddenly agreed to release $20-thousand dollars in emergency funding to Medi-Cab.

Banks says she informed the state about our story, and just a short time ago officials gave her the good news.


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