The Medical Transportation Access Coalition (MTAC) applauds recent state action for promoting policies that expand and strengthen non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) benefits for low-and middle-income adults. Specifically, through recent Section 1115 demonstration activity, Connecticut and Utah have expanded NEMT benefits for vulnerable populations that have not previously had access to this important benefit. Transportation has long been known to be a barrier to accessing healthcare and policies such as these help improve the lives and health of those in most need.
MTAC strongly supports the work of Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont and the state of Connecticut in introducing and implementing the Covered Connecticut Section 1115 demonstration waiver. Specifically, the state’s proposal will extend NEMT benefits to eligible qualified health plan members (QHP) that are comparable to NEMT benefits covered by Connecticut Medicaid. We also applaud Utah’s recently approved Section 1115 demonstration extension, the “Medicaid Reform 1115 Demonstration” which removes a harmful provision that excluded NEMT benefits for low-income adults with children. As a result, all Medicaid low-income adults in Utah will receive full state plan benefits by December 31, 2023 including NEMT regardless of whether or not they have children.
Section 1115 of the Social Security Act allows the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, by way of CMS, broad flexibility to approve Medicaid demonstrations that are likely to further the goals of the program. The NEMT benefit has been part of the Medicaid program since its inception and is deeply rooted in the notion that for Medicaid to achieve its central goal – to provide medical assistance – it must also enable access to medically necessary services. Connecticut’s demonstration, in promoting affordability and access through a NEMT benefit offered to a broader population, will certainly advance these goals. By the same token, Utah’s prior waiver – which restricted NEMT for low-income adults with children – ran counter to the goals of Medicaid and was rightly ended by the state in coordination with CMS.
Robert Pittman, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs at ModivCare, stated, “Medicaid NEMT facilitates access to care for low-income beneficiaries who lack reliable affordable means of getting to health care appointments. Expanding the NEMT to a wider group of vulnerable individuals will reduce missed hospital appointments and improve overall population health.”
Phil Stalboerger, Vice President of Public Affairs, quotes, “Connecticut and Utah are two examples of using evidence-based policymaking to guide government policy. The NEMT program has a proven track record of improving health outcomes and increasing access to necessary healthcare services.”
“States are working to improve program administration, program integrity, and beneficiary experience. NEMT plays a critical role in promoting access to care and can help address each of these factors,” quoted Dena Adams-McNeish, Chief Development Officer at Southeastrans.
MTAC was formed to educate federal and state policymakers and other stakeholders about the benefits of medical transportation and the need for policies that support continued access to these services. MTAC applauds and actively supports all state efforts to strengthen NEMT benefits and expand necessary access to these services to vulnerable populations. MTAC is committed to working with states to promote similar policies.