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Letter: Transportation discrimination in our capital city

Posted: July 31, 2014 - 12:11am

As a care coordinator and advocate for people with developmental disabilities and complex medical conditions of all ages, I am distressed by the policies of commercial taxi companies in Juneau.

Most people with disabilities are able to live in their homes and communities in Alaska thanks to home- and community-based Medicaid waiver services. This program is of benefit to all residents, communities and businesses in the state. In rural Southeast Alaska, many Medicaid recipients must travel to Juneau for medical care and specialized appointments.

For more than a year now, there have been no cab companies in Juneau that will accept Medicaid vouchers for transportation. People with disabilities can’t get to doctors’ offices, clinics or to Bartlett Regional Hospital for needed medical appointments and care. This situation is unique to Juneau alone and is an embarrassment. Juneau cab companies, by refusing to accept Medicaid vouchers, have created obstacles for people with disabilities. Is this how our capital city operates and what it wants to be known for?

Additionally, a family that I work with recently brought their son and his well-trained and essential service dog to Juneau for a medical appointment. They were refused cab services from two cab companies because of the service dog. Eventually, and thankfully, Yellow Cab took them where they needed to go.

This treatment is highly restrictive and goes against the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Please, business community and elected officials of Juneau, work with local cab companies to truly be in business for everyone and show them what a welcoming and ethical Capital City you really are.

Suzanne Vuillet-Smith

Care Coordinator, Haines

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