Capitol Letters

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Medicaid Gets a Lyft

Ride-sharing companies are registering as providers.

Lyft sign in a car.

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Receiving health care services often requires transportation. But each year, 3.6 million Americans miss appointments or delay diagnoses and treatment because they have no way to get to their providers, according to a National Conference of State Legislators report.

The ride-share company Lyft can now offer a solution to some Medicaid patients in need. In May, Arizona became the first U.S. state to register national ride-sharing companies as Medicaid providers, with Lyft becoming the first to register. The company now offers nonemergency medical transportation to the 23% of Arizonans covered under Medicaid, enabling them to be reimbursed for qualifying Lyft rides. Uber is working to get approved to transport Medicaid members in the state as well.

“This is a significant step forward in medical transportation services, and we look forward to seeing its positive impact,” Jami Snyder, director of Arizona’s Medicaid agency, said in a statement.

Other states are following Arizona’s lead. In July, Florida became the second state to allow Lyft to provide this service to Medicaid recipients. Texas has been paving the way for such a law as well.

Lyft and Uber see opportunities in the Medicare space as well. As momentum to address social determinants of health grows, the competing ride-share giants are trying to persuade Medicare Advantage payers to cover more nonmedical services like transportation. Uber wants to partner with companies in the home-based care industry, for example.

“The old way is caregivers getting into their own cars or a home care agency having to have its own fleet of vehicles…. I think [providers] are starting to see the power of ride-share,” Dan Trigub, head of Uber Health, told Home Health Care News earlier this year.