CONGRESSMAN BISHOP PROTECTS ACCESS TO VITAL HEALTH TRANSPORTATION SERVICES
WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (D-GA) achieved another victory in the road to protecting non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) to vital health services – including dialysis services and COVID-19 tests – for Medicaid patients with no other means of transportation. Yesterday the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee bill included, at Bishop’s request, a statutory directive that would stop the Trump Administration from allowing states to eliminate NEMT. The NEMT benefit has been mandatory since Medicaid first extended health insurance to low-income Americans in 1966 but is now under threat from a forthcoming Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regulation (RIN: 0938-AT81) that would make it optional at the state level.
“For the thousands of people in Georgia that need dialysis or COVID-19 testing, access to non-emergency medical transportation is a matter of life and death. Eliminating this travel assistance would force people into costly and dangerous emergency room visits during a pandemic. I want to commend Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) for including this provision in her FY 2021 appropriations legislation, while we continue to work to make this change permanent with H.R. 3935.”
Earlier this year, Congressman Bishop led a letter requesting that Congress include provisions in the FY 2021 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations bill opposing the elimination of NEMT. He also introduced the Protecting Patients Transportation to Care Act (H.R. 3935) with Buddy Carter (R-GA), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), and Tom Graves (R-GA), which would permanently codify the NEMT benefit in the Medicaid statute. H.R. 3935 was unanimously approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee in March 2020 but has not come before the full House yet. However, the U.S. House of Representatives included the provisions of H.R. 3935 in the HEROES Act (Section 30111), which was approved by the House on May 15, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Medicaid NEMT provides over 100 million rides annually to medical appointments for Medicaid beneficiaries who do not have their own means of transportation. The benefit is used primarily by people with chronic conditions including end-stage renal disease, substance use disorder, and AIDS. These patients who depend on NEMT for access to life-sustaining medical services such as chemotherapy, dialysis, and medication-assisted addiction treatment. During the COVID-19 pandemic, NEMT providers also are repurposing their businesses to deliver meals, groceries, and medical supplies to beneficiaries who have been directed not to leave their homes.