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      Too Early to Cut Transportation Benefits From Medicaid Enrollees


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          Some state governments are considering cuts to the non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) benefit for Medicaid enrollees, and some Federal officials have proposed making this easier. Yet, there is clear demand. In 2015 alone, low-income patients used 59 million rides for medical appointments. NEMT’s future is under threat because evidence that NEMT improves health care access and downstream outcomes is incomplete. Second, it remains largely unknown whether scarce public resources for transportation are being driven to those who benefit from its availability. This knowledge gap is answerable but unknown because of variations in how states administer NEMT. As a result, tracking who uses the services is inconsistent, and states are unable to link NEMT data with health care outcomes. Instead of cutting NEMT benefits, we believe an alternative path involves improved tracking and evaluations of the benefit first. Better informed policy decisions are needed. Otherwise, if policymakers implement blanket reductions in NEMT spending, they run the risk of causing more harm than good.

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          Most cited references 4

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          Traveling towards disease: transportation barriers to health care access.

          Transportation barriers are often cited as barriers to healthcare access. Transportation barriers lead to rescheduled or missed appointments, delayed care, and missed or delayed medication use. These consequences may lead to poorer management of chronic illness and thus poorer health outcomes. However, the significance of these barriers is uncertain based on existing literature due to wide variability in both study populations and transportation barrier measures. The authors sought to synthesize the literature on the prevalence of transportation barriers to health care access. A systematic literature search of peer-reviewed studies on transportation barriers to healthcare access was performed. Inclusion criteria were as follows: (1) study addressed access barriers for ongoing primary care or chronic disease care; (2) study included assessment of transportation barriers; and (3) study was completed in the United States. In total, 61 studies were reviewed. Overall, the evidence supports that transportation barriers are an important barrier to healthcare access, particularly for those with lower incomes or the under/uninsured. Additional research needs to (1) clarify which aspects of transportation limit health care access (2) measure the impact of transportation barriers on clinically meaningful outcomes and (3) measure the impact of transportation barrier interventions and transportation policy changes.
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            Transportation to clinic: findings from a pilot clinic-based survey of low-income suburbanites.

            Health care policymakers have cited transportation barriers as key obstacles to providing health care to low-income suburbanites, particularly because suburbs have become home to a growing number of recent immigrants who are less likely to own cars than their neighbors. In a suburb of New York City, we conducted a pilot survey of low income, largely immigrant clients in four public clinics, to find out how much transportation difficulties limit their access to primary care. Clients were receptive to the opportunity to participate in the survey (response rate = 94%). Nearly one-quarter reported having transportation problems that had caused them to miss or reschedule a clinic appointment in the past. Difficulties included limited and unreliable local bus service, and a tenuous connection to a car. Our pilot work suggests that this population is willing to participate in a survey on this topic. Further, since even among those attending clinic there was significant evidence of past transportation problems, it suggests that a population based survey would yield information about substantial transportation barriers to health care.
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              Missed or Delayed Medical Care Appointments by Older Users of Nonemergency Medical Transportation.

               Kara MacLeod (corresponding) ,  David Ragland,  Thomas R Prohaska (2015)
              This study identified factors associated with canceling nonemergency medical transportation appointments among older adult Medicaid patients.

                Author and article information

                Health Serv Insights
                Health Serv Insights
                Health Services Insights
                SAGE Publications (Sage UK: London, England )
                14 October 2018
                : 12
                [1 ]Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA
                [2 ]Department of Medicine, Corporal Michael J. Crescenz Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA, USA
                [3 ]Policy, Health and Human Services, UnitedHealthcare Community & State, Minneapolis, MN, USA
                [4 ]Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting, Washington, DC, USA
                Author notes
                Krisda H Chaiyachati, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, 13th Floor Blockley Hall, 423 Guardian Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19146, USA. Email: kchai@ 123456pennmedicine.upenn.edu
                © The Author(s) 2018

                This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages ( https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).

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                January-December 2018


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