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New in Medicaid Medical Transportation: Uber and Lyft

State Medicaid programs focused on ensuring that beneficiaries keep their doctor appointments are increasingly looking to ride-sharing services to supplement the providers already participating in their medical transportation programs.

Today, Lyft is working with approximately 35 state Medicaid programs while Uber, at least so far, participates only in Arizona’s program.

While ride-sharing is not going to replace other medical transportation programs – for one thing, most Uber and Lyft cars are not equipped to serve individuals with serious disabilities – they can help supplement services that today typically require patients to reserve rides days ahead of time and then share van rides with other patients.

To facilitate the use of ride-sharing services, several state governments have eased regulations that require people who drive Medicaid beneficiaries to undergo first-aid training and drug testing.

Learn more about how ride-sharing is moving into the Medicaid medical transportation industry in the Kaiser Health News article “Uber And Lyft Ride-Sharing Services Hitch Onto Medicaid.”

Medicaid Transportation Services in Jeopardy?

The White House has proposed removing non-emergency transportation from the list of mandatory Medicaid benefits.

The proposed FY 2020 budget released last week explained that

Statute allows, but does not require, States to provide non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT).  Instead, these services were made mandatory Medicaid benefits by regulation.  Further, a Government Accountability Office study found Medicaid NEMT spending totaled $1.5 billion in 2013, and NEMT programs face multiple challenges, including difficulties in obtaining costs and maintaining program integrity.  To address these issues, this proposal would update regulations to clarify the NEMT benefit is strictly optional.

Medical transportation has long been viewed as vital means for helping Medicaid patients keep doctors’ appointments and recover from their illnesses and injuries and for overcoming some social determinants of health.  Loss of this tool would be harmful for private safety-net hospitals and the patients and communities they serve.  NASH will closely monitor the progress of this proposal.