For those with chronic conditions, the need for care remains even in the midst of a pandemic, requiring those all-important NEMT trips to provide transportation to appointments. The life and death scenarios of the pandemic go far beyond COVID-positive patients, and can affect all those who require both frequent and acute care.
As the country moves into its fourth month of pandemic response, the impacts of this virus on our health systems, economy, essential workers and population writ large continue to emerge. In an effort to offer additional relief, the House of Representatives passed the fourth Coronavirus response bill. This recently passed legislation (“H.R. 6800“), known as The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, is the largest package yet, totaling $3 trillion. Included within the HEROES Act was a provision that moves the NEMT benefit into Medicaid statute. Additional language focusing on program integrity was included within the final package including driver credentialing provisions.
In addition to the full section of the bill dedicated to NEMT, a number of other provisions may be relevant to NEMT brokers, providers and/or drivers:
Given the bill passed the House on a partisan vote, it is likely to sit in the Senate, and unlikely to become law in its current form. Despite this, there are a few important takeaways that readers should note.
First, the fact that NEMT language was included in this bill illustrates and confirms there is an appetite for full codification of the NEMT benefit in Medicaid. Despite challenges from the administration in recent years, Congress has repeatedly shown support for NEMT services as a mandatory NEMT benefit.
Second, it reiterates the importance of program integrity, and shows that even if there are concerns, Congress is working to address then (rather than eliminate the benefit). The inclusion of provider and driver requirements illustrate the importance of safety, security, and quality of service, while the inclusion of stakeholder convenings acknowledge more discussion on how to best provide NEMT services is still needed.
Third, both the GAO study and congressional report on T-MSIS data show us that there is finally movement of individuals who seek to understand the data. Whether or not the data exists in a cohesive form is another question. Either way, CTAA is encouraged to see these provisions included in the bill.
In conclusion, no matter what happens next with the HEROES Bill, NEMT’s inclusion within the package places it in a strong position to be included at the table in future COVID-19 related discussions, and legislation.
A quick note on federal advocacy for NEMT:
CTAA encourages any members interested in this issue to message to their Representative and Senators regarding previously introduced House and Senate NEMT Bills (H.R. 3935) and (S. 2846), as well as the NEMT provisions in the HEROES Act. Despite the encouraging movements these past few months, we are not yet to the finish line with regard to the protection of the NEMT benefit. We encourage you to email your Congressional offices directly, or use the new Contact Congress Tool created by our partners at the Medical Transportation Access Coalition.
The Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) and its members believe that mobility is a basic human right. From work and education to life-sustaining health care and human services programs to shopping and visiting with family and friends, mobility directly impacts quality of life.