Local transportation providers and communities could experience a severe reduction in services if the federal government moves forward with a plan to scale back Medicaid’s non-emergency medical transportation benefit, experts argued Tuesday.
“Because Medicaid NEMT and local transportation services are commonly provided by the same local transportation agencies, the two services are interdependent,” community and medical transportation advocates Michael Adelberg, Scott Bogren and Alexandra King wrote in a Health Affairs blog post.
“Cuts to Medicaid NEMT would therefore undermine entire communities’ — not just Medicaid beneficiaries ’— access to transportation,” they added.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is reportedly considering making it optional for states to provide NEMT for Medicaid beneficiaries. An estimated 10% of beneficiaries — many of them nursing home residents — rely on NEMT to get to medical appointments.
In September, several U.S. lawmakers called on others to co-sponsor a bill that would codify the Medicaid NEMT benefit.
The NEMT benefit and local transportation services are often provided by same local agencies, the authors explained.
Some state transportation agencies use the number of rides those services provide and/or the amount of people they serve to decide how much funding they should receive. The loss of Medicaid riders and funding would likely force community transportation services to reduce their services, they wrote.
“Regardless of the NEMT delivery model, the provision of Medicaid NEMT and local public transportation is frequently interwoven. If Medicaid NEMT riders were not on community transportation routes, a significant portion of existing local community transportation services would be unsustainable,” the authors concluded.