Thursday, October 29, 2009

Medicaid: skip the headlines, read the fine print

Mainstream and alternative media alike are shouting the headlines about the release of the House Democrats' health bill. If you haven't seen this news, take a look at the Washington Post, the New York Times, or your own local media outlet.

For transportation, though, the important thing is to burrow deep into this bill, where Section 1737 would establish, for the first time in health care history, a statutory mandate for states to provide non-emergency medical transportation as part of their program of Medicaid benefits.

While Medicaid transportation is nothing new in most of the US (the Community Transportation Association has an entire portion of its web site dedicated to this topic), it has been addressed as a regulatory matter by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, as a result of legal action in the 1980s. But if this section of the House bill becomes law, the transportation component becomes grounded in actual law, not simply in the rulings of federal courts.

Stay tuned, to see - first - if this bill makes it through to House passage, and then to see what happens in the Senate and thereafter.

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