CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Leading lawmakers want representatives of the state DHHR to appear before them at a meeting next month to further explain a proposal to use a broker to handle non-emergency medical transports across the state.

House Minority Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, raised a number of questions during a meeting Wednesday morning of the legislature’s Joint Committee on Government and Finance.

Del. Armstead said he’s heard from county ambulance services who are concerned they will lose some of the transports and thus lose the money they use to help with their emergency responses.

The DHHR has already received bids from three out-of-state brokers interested in providing the service. The agency is currently reviewing the bids. DHHR Medicaid Commissioner Nancy Atkins told another group of lawmakers later in the day Wednesday using a broker would save waste in the Medicaid system and provide the best non-emergency transportation for Medicaid recipients.

“The intent is to save money for Medicaid, coordinate that care a little more and to make sure the Medicaid members have adequate and safe transportation,” Atkins said.

DHHR Deputy Commissioner of Finance Tina Bailes said the proposal includes protections that guarantee local ambulance authorities will have the opportunity to contract with the broker and receive the standard Medicaid reimbursement rate.

“Our proposal says the broker must offer those contracts to those entities,” Bailes said. “So it would be up to the entity or agency to contract with that broker.”

The interim legislative committee agreed to formally ask the DHHR not to make any movement on the bids until the agency comes before the committee at its next meeting scheduled in early January.

An EMS coalition held a rally on the steps of the state capitol last month

“It (the broker system) would cut our non-emergency trucks and it has the potential to affect our emergency trucks in the rural area,” Trish Watson¬†of the Lincoln County Emergency Medical Services said at that rally.

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  • confused

    Still wondering why the criteria to be a "broker" elimites ALL WV companies. Why does DHHR want to give this work to a company that is not in WV. This is taking jobs away from WV. Shouldn't WV compaines be eligible to take care of WV patients and be paid by WV tax dollars? As far as the waste..come on people if this "broker" would eliminate waste in spending your crazy. What about all the waste of people who are on state assistance just because they know how to work the system or because they were raised on the system and been taught that you can sit on your butt and get a check for the more babies you have. Granted some people need the assistance but I would guess that more than 50% are not legitimate.

  • Dave

    "You currently have people making a living taking themselves and their children to the doctor. For example, say the have four children. They will schedule four separate trips to the doctor so they get mileage paid to them"

    Truth, I don't know where you got this info, but it's nowhere near true. Nobody gets "Mileage paid to them" for using an ambulance service. I think you've been watching too much fake news, or listening to uninformed people. Either way, you're wrong. Next I'm sure you'll blame it on Obama.

    • NEMT

      No individuals don't get paid for using an ambulance but individuals who receive medicaid do get reimbursed for any and every trip they take to a doctor or hospital at .47 a mile. People do take advantage of this program and its only going to get worse with 50,000 new individuals now eligible for Medicaid. If this can save the state money I'm all for it.

    • the truth

      I was not talking about the ambulance service. The non emergency medical transportation program pays medicaid recipients 47 cents per mile to go to the doctor in their personal vehicle. So you have people that go to the doctor just so they can bill this mileage. So next time you need to research and find the truth out. YOU ARE WRONG.

  • Concerned

    Look at the history of these companies that are the lowest bidder. They can promise to use local agencies but they do not follow through with their promises. Time and time and story after story they are putting local services out of business. If you want to save money in Medicaid stop the using ambulances as taxis. Put people on the committee that really matter. Let's recruit nurses that are still in practice, ER doctors, family doctors, and EMS workers. They are the ones with real answers that are not politically motivated.

  • Jeff

    The friends and family program is where all the waste is. It is what eats up the time of local DHHR offices signing vouchers. Three neighboring states implemented a broker and left ambulances out of it. WV can do the same. DHHR should pay attention to what happened this week when First Med, the company that owned Life Ambulance, shut its doors without notice and left 2500 people without jobs, communities without ambulance service and thousands without medical transportation.

  • Kelly

    You know, why don't we just eliminate the travel reimbursement requirement?!

    There, we just saved millions of dollars.

  • bid everything to the lowest bidder

    Typical Tim Armstead; I want to save money anywhere possible. We don't need more taxes lets cut waste. Now an agency is looking for a POTENTIAL cost savings and we need to look at it. Or no lets spend money because local EMS will lose out. Tell the local to operate at or below cost of out of state bid.

    I would really like to know where our Minority leader thinks we can cut taxes, maintain spending or increase spending.

    It concerns me that the Minority leader always thinks we can cut taxes, maintain or increase spending and survive.

    Please metro news; ask our minority leader where the line item in our state budget for wasteful spending is so we can eliminate that expenditure and all will be well.

    In short; if any agency can find a way to save money, be more efficient, ALL our lawmakers should be excited and supportive.

  • stophating

    One comment.... Three out of state agencies have already placed bids.... Sounds like they will make money just by calling and saying pickup John Doe.... Does this not smell of corruption and kickback?

  • The truth

    The non emergency medical program is the most corrupt and abused social service program in the state. The state currently spends 20 million dollars a year on it and it is expected to grow to 37 million due to Obama care. The ambulance services are not being cut out. They will still be vendors but must make their services available at certain times and guarantee service. They cannot just due it at their convenience.
    Many problems will be solved. You currently have people making a living taking themselves and their children to the doctor. For example, say the have four children. They will schedule four separate trips to the doctor so they get mileage paid to them. Can you tell me what other medical coverage pays you mileage to go to the doctor? Under this vendor contracting it will remove this incentive to abuse and I bet save millions in unnecessary medical visits.
    People need to tell the ambulance companies to quit complaining and outright BS about this contacting of NEMT. Any front line worker would tell you this program just breeds fraud and abuse.

    • 2XLPatriot

      The truth; I think you may have confused travel pay with non emergency transports. A non-emergency transport MUST be medically necessary in order for medicaid / medicare and any other insurance to pay. A single mom can't call an ambulance to take her kids to a doctor's appointment. These are two very seperate issues. EMS provides the service to people who have had strokes, are confined to a bed, physically unable to ride in a car or wheelchair van, in a nursing home, or just too old and decrepit to go any other way. EMS agencies are paid a guaranteed sum for each transport by medicaid as long as the transport was medically necessary. Yes, there are craploads of abuse stories that seem to never end. There is little oversight and bringing in an out of state vendor to do these transports will take away from local EMS agencies. Don't attack the people who, after taking granny to the doctor, turn right around and rescue someone from the river or a car crash. Most EMS agencies provide both emergency and non-emergency services. Any money they bill for and get, is used for payroll, equipment, vehicles and training. So, the next time you want to attack a local EMS agency because you have your facts completely screwed up, think about who may be coming to take you or someone you love to the hospital.

      • the truth

        Its all part of the same program. You have also millions of dollars wasted on these ambulance services because they cannot refuse service. So you have people who will use it like it is a Taxi Service. I remember reading about and individual in Buffalo New York that would call and ambulance and be transported to the hospital. He would leave and go to the place next to the hospital that he really wanted to go to and medicaid and medicare would foot the bill.

    • Joe

      Medicaid also pays for travel reimbursement to go to the doctor. Ask any medical office receptionist how much they enjoy stping travel vouchers.

  • Gary

    How can a 3rd party save money for Medicaid when they will be paid to "Broker" the calls. The way it works now is the patient or hospital calls the Ambulance Service, no middleman to pay! The only way it will save money is if the broker makes a deal with a provider to deliver service at a lower rate, thus leaving out the LOCAL Ambulance Service. I was a Paramedic for a county service that didn't do non-emergency/ emergency transports, it no longer exist!! This is bad for local Squads !!

    • the truth

      You have no idea how much staff and time is consumed at a local DHHR level on this horrible program. The way it is set up now just breeds corruption. This brokerage service will eliminate people who take themselves to the doctor for the sole purpose of billing for mileage.

      • bulldog95

        Truth, are you trying to say that funding for emergency and non emergency are in one pool, thus allowing the pool to be drained from the NEMT fraud you described?

        • the truth

          Its all the same money. The main fraud is on the receipient end. The program needs to die or go to this change.

      • 2XLPatriot

        Again, this has nothing to do with ambulance services. One is not paid for mileage if they go by ambulance.