Some states make efforts to cut Medicaid transportation services: 5 things to know

Medicaid transportation that moves patients to and from medical services could be scaled back in some states, according to a Kaiser Health News report.

Here are five things to know.

1. Nonemergency medical transportation, or NEMT, is a Medicaid benefit offered to seniors, individuals with disabilities and other populations in need of the services. Through NEMT, patients are transported to medical services such as mental health counseling sessions, substance abuse treatment and dialysis.

2. NEMT includes nearly 104 million trips annually, costing roughly $3 billion, according to the report, which cites a 2013 estimate, the most recent, by Texas researchers.

3. U.S. Republican lawmakers have tried to make changes related to the benefits. Rep. Susan Brooks of Indiana unsuccessfully sought a resolution to give states greater "flexibility" when it comes to whether to provide NEMT, according to the report. KHN reports Republicans also unsuccessfully tried to reduce federal funding for NEMT last year.

4. States, however, have continued their own efforts. According to the report, Iowa, Indiana and Kentucky received the federal government's permission to cut NEMT services, and Massachusetts is also seeking permission. Residents of Indiana and Indiana who are considered "medically frail" or in certain other groups may still access Medicaid transportation, but the definition of who qualifies is wide ranging, according to the report.

5. KHN reported proponents of the NEMT changes cite escalating costs and other reasoning, while opponents expressed concerns about Medicaid beneficiaries losing access to transportation to medical appointments.

Read the full KHN report here.


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