February 14, 2023
A2878/S1069, the "Medicaid Transportation Brokerage Program Oversight and Accountability Act", would establish vehicle, staffing, and performance standards, and review and reporting requirements for non-emergency medical transport provided under the state's non-emergency medical transportation brokerage program.
This legislation comes as advocates have criticized the current system in New Jersey and has been calling for reforms for years. Currently, New Jersey pays a Colorado-based company, Modivcare, to recruit drivers and provide nonemergency medical transport, which is funded by Medicaid. The cost to New Jersey is $179 million a year, as reported on njspotlightnews.com.
Advocates testified before the Assembly Human Services Committee last week, highlighting that there have been more than 800,000 complaints generated against Modivcare since 2020. These complaints included reports of drivers frequently being late or lost, and of drivers being rude and dismissive of passengers with disabilities.
Joan Marie Granato, President of the New Jersey Adult Medical Day Services Coalition, stated to the lawmakers, "Sometimes these seniors are waiting outside in the cold (for hours). Sometimes they don't get picked up at all due to lack of drivers . . . But if you talk to my clients on a daily basis that have taken the service, they would say, 'Why complain anymore? I don't call to complain anymore.' So there are probably thousands of more complaints that don't get called in or go unnoticed."
The proposed legislation would require all pickups and drop-offs be within 15 minutes of the scheduled times, and also increases state oversight of the operations and makes it easier for people to file formal complaints. Additionally, with amendments approved by the Assembly Human Services Committee, the legislation would allow New Jersey to bring in a second vendor for non-emergency medical transportation in the state if one is not sufficient.
NJAMHAA President and CEO Debra L. Wentz, PhD, was also quoted in the article, saying, "Additional accountability and oversight for reliable and safe transportation are always welcome, especially for those who are most vulnerable."
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