Bipartisan effort underway in the U.S. House to prevent rollback of state mandated transportation services for Medicaid recipients.
Caring for our most vulnerable citizens is an American tradition that is as old as the country itself. In today’s world, the components of an effective healthcare system that make it possible to promote the wellbeing of all citizens is complex. For those in greatest need, the interdependent elements necessary to provide effective medical care must all work together to assure the highest likelihood of positive health outcomes.
Unfortunately, one of those elements is under threat of being restricted. According to McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is considering a roll back of benefits in 2021 by making it optional for states to provide non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) services for Medicaid recipients.
The good news is, there is opposition to the proposed benefit reduction in both parties on Capitol Hill as evidenced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers seeking additional co-sponsors for the Protecting Patients Transportation to Care Act.
Led by Reps. Buddy Carter (R-GA), Tom Graves (R-GA), Sanford Bishop (D-GA) and Tony Cardenas (D-CA), the bill doesn’t seek to expand budgets, but to simply maintain NEMT benefits as a mandatory part of every state’s Medicaid program. We applaud their efforts to protect our most frail and vulnerable citizens and believe they have hit on a sensible and reasonable approach … and a comprehensive industry study gives credence to this position.
The Medical Transportation Access Coalition (MTAC), an association of the country’s top NEMT brokers and healthcare stakeholders (including LogistiCare) commissioned a deep dive analysis into NEMT last year. They found it to be an essential and highly cost-effective, public-private partnership that helps assure the health and wellbeing of millions in America. It saves the taxpayer-funded Medicaid system hundreds of millions annually by assuring patients maintain better health and avoid more serious (and much more expensive) medical issues by keeping regularly scheduled visits with healthcare providers. Maintaining such appointments would be impossible for many without rides to and from caregivers’ facilities. As part of the analysis, 1,000 beneficiaries were surveyed and over 58% of all respondents indicated that they would not be able to make any of their medical appointments without this critical service.
Goinvo, a national leader in healthcare information analysis recently created a comprehensive open source visualization of the social determinants of health. They analyzed data from an extensive set of healthcare information sources and identified five main determinants of outcome (genetics, medical care, social circumstances, environment, and individual behavior). What stood out was 67% of outcomes were found to be determined by non-medical, non-genetic factors such as behavior, social circumstances (including access to transportation) and physical environment.
These findings clearly show that NEMT is an influential factor in health outcomes. We are grateful to Reps. Carter, Graves, Bishop and Cardenas for recognizing the important role NEMT plays in the wellbeing of our fellow citizens. We wish them the best in securing support on both sides of the aisle to preserve this critical benefit that serves millions nationwide.