He said he was kicked out of a cab because he didn’t have cash, but what Cory Martin did have should have gotten him a free ride.
Martin lives in the tiny town of Chistochina on the Tok Cutoff Highway. He broke his back a little more than a year ago.
“A Ford Explorer fell on top of me while I was changing a flat tire,” Martin explained. ” I got pinned underneath. It was a pretty bad ordeal.”
Martin was prescribed potent painkillers that require constant monitoring. But when the clinic in Glennallen closed, he was forced to see a doctor in Anchorage. As a Medicaid patient, Martin was issued vouchers to take a van service for the five-hour drive to Anchorage, as well as vouchers for transportation when he arrived.
Martin tried to use the vouchers for the first time last month. He said he had no trouble getting a cab ride from his midtown hotel to the doctor’s office, and no problem using his voucher to take another cab to the midtown Walgreens to fill his prescription. He said the trouble began when he called a third cab to take him back to his hotel.
“I told them I was Cory Martin again, I had my voucher and I needed a ride back to the hotel,” Martin said. “The cab driver showed up, I put my items in the cab. I get in, hand him the vouchers, and he just starts taking off driving.”
Martin said the driver refused to take the voucher and demanded cash. Martin said he was confused, and began apologizing that he had no money, only the voucher. The driver, he said, began cursing him, then threatening him before dropping him off in a parking lot in the dark.
Martin, who is not familiar with Anchorage, started walking in the direction he believed his hotel was located. The snow was deep and his back was killing him. He said he had trouble making sense of what had happened to him.
“No one deserves to be dropped off at 15 below zero, 9 o’clock at night, in a strange unfamiliar area after someone’s verbally, almost physically attacked you,” he said.
Martin reported the incident to the Anchorage Transportation Inspection Office. He also called the cab company. The day after it happened, the state’s Medicaid office got involved.
Director Margeret Brodie said Martin had every right to be upset. She also said it’s happened before, mostly with new drivers who may not know the rules.
“Because they aren’t handing the cab driver cash, they are handing them a voucher,” Brodie said. “And so a brand-new cab driver may panic and wonder how they are going to get paid. We investigate every single one of them, and if it turns out a provider hasn’t been educated, we make sure that happens the same day so it doesn’t happen to another person.”
Brodie said when she called the taxi company, she was told the driver had already been let go. She encouraged anyone who has had similar issues to contact the Medicaid Recipient Helpline at 1-800-780-9972.