REPRESENTATIVES BISHOP AND CARTER INTRODUCE BIPARTISAN LEGISLATION TO ENSURE SENIORS HAVE ACCESS TO LIFE-SAVING COVID-19 VACCINES
WASHINGTON, DC – On Friday, March 19, 2021, Representatives Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (D-GA-02) and Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-GA-01) introduced H.R. 2080, the Seniors Access to Vaccines Ensured (SAVE) Act of 2021. This bipartisan bill will create a temporary Medicare non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) benefit during the length of the public health emergency to transport seniors to and from COVID-19 vaccination appointments.
“Getting a COVID-19 vaccine has been a difficult process for many. An added layer for senior citizens has been transportation to the vaccination location. This bill will help senior citizens get a ride to and from their vaccination appointments, even at drive-through, mass vaccination sites,” said Bishop. “The benefit could be especially important for our rural constituents who may lack access to adequate public transportation to reach vaccination sites.”
“Congress should be doing everything we can to expand access to the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Carter. “One way we can do this is by ensuring vulnerable seniors have transportation to the vaccination sites. To end this pandemic, Americans need to get vaccinated, and transportation issues should not stand in the way. I’m glad to introduce this bipartisan bill with my friend from Georgia today to help ensure all seniors can get a shot.”
The legislation would be limited to those beneficiaries that do not already qualify for NEMT through dual-eligibility status in the Medicaid program which, unlike Medicare, provides rides to non-emergency medical appointments and do not have access to other transportation options. According to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, only about 12% of Medicare beneficiaries are full Medicare-Medicaid dual-eligible and therefore have coverage for Medicaid’s NEMT benefit. As a result, over 30 million Medicare beneficiaries do not have access to medical transportation through Medicare. While many of these beneficiaries have other transportation options such as a ride from an adult child, this temporary benefit will provide a lifeline to the significant number of beneficiaries unable to get to and from their vaccination appointments.
Individuals between the ages of 65 and 74 have been at particularly high risk of serious complications from the coronavirus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they are five times more likely to be hospitalized and 90 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than younger people.