Beginning Sept. 2 the Surry County Department of Social Services will implement a change to the county’s Medicaid transportation policy. The new policy will affect those Medicaid patients who have access to their own rides to and from medical appointments.
The changes will have no affect on those Medicaid patients who use the transportation services for which the county contracts with the Yadkin Valley Economic Development District Inc. (YVEDDI).
Federal Medicaid standards require states to have a plan to transport Medicaid patients to and from medical appointments. In North Carolina counties execute the responsibility of implementing a transportation plan. Though countines initially handle transportation plans, since the 2008 “Medicaid swap,” they are reimbursed by the state for the costs.
In Surry County, the Department of Social Services contracts with YVEDDI to provide transportation or gives those Medicaid patients who have their own means of transportation mileage reimbursement or gas vouchers to cover costs associated with medically-related travel.
According to social services staff the costs associated with Medicaid transportation were about $750,000 in the last fiscal year.
Beginning Sept. 2 the opportunity for Medicaid patients to receive a gas voucher to cover transportation costs will be removed from the department’s policy. Instead, those Medicaid patients who provide their own transportation will have to file travel reimbursement requests to recoup transportation costs.
Reimbursement requests, which must be submitted by the tenth of the month following an appointment, are paid at a rate equal to 50 percent of the year’s Internal Revenue Service business mileage rate. For 2015, that rate has been set at 57.5 cents per mile, making the Medicaid reimbursement rate 28.75 cents this year.
According to the Department of Social Services monthly report there are more than 16,000 recipients of Medicaid services in Surry County. Social Services Director Kristy Preston said that each of the county’s Medicaid patients will receive letters notifying them of the reimbursement change.
According to Preston the change was prompted by the administrative workload involved with the gas vouchers. “They were labor intensive and were becoming somewhat of an administrative nightmare,” commented Preston. According to Preston the mileage reimbursement process is easier navigated by both social services personnel and Medicaid patients.
Andy Winemiller is a staff writer at the Mount Airy News. Andy can be reached at (336) 415-4698 or firstname.lastname@example.org.