On November 20, 2019, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released its Fall regulatory agenda, which indicated that the agency will release a request for information (RFI) next month. This RFI will solicit feedback on the necessity of a regulation that requires state Medicaid programs to provide transportation for enrollees to non-emergency medical appointments. Earlier this year, CMS had signaled that the agency would be proposing a regulation that would eliminate the non-emergency medical transportation benefit, but that regulation was postponed following stakeholder opposition to it. Additionally, the administration’s budget proposals for 2019 and 2020 sought to make the non-emergency medical transportation benefit optional for states. Due to push back from stakeholders, CMS has postponed any action on the issue until 2021, but the announcement of an RFI could signal that the agency is looking to take action on the issue soon.
Advocates for the medical transportation benefit are now asking Congress to step in, which could prevent CMS from eliminating the benefit through regulatory action. This could be achieved by including the benefit in legislation or by restricting the agency’s ability to spend money on the proposed rule through a spending limitation included in the agency’s budget. The agency’s plan to release an RFI on the issue could spur congressional action.