Well, Maybe if the Doctor’s Office Was in the Mall….
I gotta say, even I was surprised to learn that somehow RIPTA depended on Medicaid money to keep running.
A federal clampdown on the state’s Medicaid program will cost as many as 18,000 needy Rhode Islanders their free bus passes and will force the state to make up for millions of dollars in lost transit money to avert wreaking havoc on the state’s bus system, state officials say.
The state is also expecting an attempt by the federal government to demand repayment of millions of dollars in past Medicaid money that was spent on transit. Those payments, reaching back to 1995, total more than $60 million, according to figures from the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority, although state officials say they expect the amount sought by the federal government in “recoupment” to be much smaller, between $4 million and $5 million.
The development means that the state, which paid an increasing amount of the cost of running the state bus system with Medicaid money, will now have to pick up that expense or face a major disruption, probably including bus service cuts and perhaps layoffs, at RIPTA.
Only a bureaucrat and/or the most committed government=mommy proponent could possibly think that a blanket ride-the-bus-for-free pass (versus a certain allotment per year, for instance) was a legit use of Medicaid funds.
DHS Director Gary Alexander said the change will affect about 18,000 of the 27,000 RIte Care members who now get bus passes, worth $45 a month. He said the other 9,000 will continue to get passes through the Family Independence Program, formerly the welfare program.
The reason for the change is that Medicaid doesn’t pay for general transportation, only for transportation related to medical treatment, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which runs the Medicare, Medicaid and related programs.
Hey, I can understand the need to pay for transportation to the doctor or hospital and how there is some justification for Medicaid dollars to be used to subsidize such transport. But how did they ever think that Medicaid could be legitimately used to pay for unlimited trips to the mall, too? I guess so long as they could get away with it, it was OK, right? And now 18,000 people will be ticked off because their “right” to free transportation will be yanked. Thus does the enablement of the entitlement mindset end up hurting those who are supposed to benefit from the “helping hand.” At least until the money (about $10 million) disappears.