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GW Policy Brief Examines Medicaid’s Non-Emergency Transportation Assurance and Assesses Implications for Health Reform
WASHINGTON—The George Washington University Department of Health Policy, Center for Health Policy Research, released a policy brief that examines Medicaid’s non-emergency medical transportation assurance and the role played by the assurance as policymakers debate national health reform. The brief reviews the origins and evolution of the assurance and presents the results of a 2009 survey of state Medicaid programs regarding the current state of Medicaid transportation.
- While non-emergency medical transportation represented 1% of total Medicaid spending in FY 2006 (slightly more than $3 billion), Medicaid expenditures for transportation make the program the second largest federal funder of public transportation, behind only programs administered by the United State Department of Transportation. As such, Medicaid-funding is crucial to the availability of medical transportation services for receipt of medically necessary health care.
- The assurance of medical transportation is one of several basic program features that set Medicaid apart from traditional concepts of health insurance. The non-emergency transportation assurance has been part of Medicaid since its enactment and is one of the features that sets Medicaid apart from traditional health insurance for the poor.
- As of 2009, nearly all states recognize non-emergency medical transportation as a fundamental program component, but three states, have eliminated non-emergency transportation, as part of their “benefit flexibility” programs under the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA). An important issue in this regard is the recent proposal from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to reconsider 2008 regulations permitting the elimination of non-emergency transportation option, as well as changes to the state benefit flexibility option that were enacted by Congress in 2009 as part of CHIPRA.
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