Every fiscal year, there are changes to the budget that you may be unaware of. Unfortunately, one of the changes for 2019 directly affects Medicaid. Specifically, the 2019 budget allows states to drop the Medicaid non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) benefit. In fact, the new budget will affect Medicaid medical transportation benefits in 2019 in several ways.

History

For starters, the NEMT benefit has existed since 1966. It’s been a part of Medicaid since the program began. In fact, it was established as a way to help people get the necessary medical treatment they need. Ideally, everyone would be able to get to and from their medical appointments. Unfortunately, low-income citizens cannot find adequate transportation to get the healthcare they need. Therefore, the NEMT benefit was created. Additionally, it’s been proven how medical transportation actually reduces the cost of Medicaid.

Change

The NEMT change allows the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) to use regulatory authority to drop the service. However, this would be against the CMS’ best interest. While Medicaid continues to expand, there have been several attempts to limit accruing costs for the program. With this in mind, here are some of the previous attempts that were proposed to reduce Medicaid costs:

  • Provide limited benefit waivers to non-Medicaid eligible people
  • Waivers that focus on preventative healthcare with the requirement of continually paying premiums
  • Trial with three states to limit NEMT to implement the 2007-2009 Medicaid “benchmark” benefit

Having said this, these three proposals were the only previous proposed limits to federally eliminating the NEMT.

Keep in mind, this change to your Medicaid medical transportation benefits in 2019 can directly affect you. If New Jersey chooses to be one of those states, that will be problematic for a lot of people who require medical transportation.

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