Governor Hickenlooper Signs Medicaid Non-Emergency Transportation Bill

DENVER, CO – Today Governor Hickenlooper signed House Bill 16-1097 into law which will make it easier for new transportation businesses to provide Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) and Non-Medical Transportation (NMT) services to Colorado Medicaid members. This bill allows for a new category of licensure by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

NEMT and NMT providers are currently regulated by the PUC as common carriers. This level of regulation has proven prohibitive because new transportation provider applications are regularly protested or blocked by established transportation providers. Creating this new category of licensure, limited regulation carriers, is expected to reduce the number protests and result in more transportation service providers for Medicaid members. These transportation businesses are required to have regular vehicle inspections, driver background checks, and sufficient insurance. It is expected that the limited regulation permits will start being issued in early 2017.

“This legislation will help us increase transportation availability and access to care for our Medicaid members,” said Susan E. Birch, MBA, BSN, RN, executive director. “Our Department is working hard to improve business processes with the goal of making Medicaid work better for our members and providers. We believe this legislation will produce positive results for both.”

HB 16-1097 is expected to improve safety and reduce costs. The law includes a provision that allows the Department to transfer some of the Medicaid savings to the PUC so they can hire vendors to inspect Medicaid transportation vehicles more frequently. Costs for medical services should decrease with the increased utilization of NEMT services. The Department estimates that increasing access to less costly medical services will save $345,000 in state fiscal year 2017-18.

Taxi companies that currently provide NEMT and NMT transportation are unaffected and the legislation does not change common carrier regulations or rates. Transportation providers not currently requiring PUC licensure are also not affected by this legislation.

House Bill 16-1097 was sponsored by Senator Ray Scott (R-Mesa) and Representatives Don Coram (R-Delores, Montezuma, Montrose, and San Miguel) and Dominick Moreno (D-Adams).

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