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NAMI believes that public policies and practices should promote access to care for people with mental health conditions. NAMI opposes efforts to limit or eliminate non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) in Medicaid, a critical benefit for people with mental health conditions.
Access to mental health treatment, services and supports is vital for people with mental illness to get well and stay well. For many, having reliable, affordable transportation to and from medical appointments can be a major hurdle to accessing mental health care. Each year, millions of people miss medical appointments due to unavailable or unaffordable transportation. This limits opportunities for individuals to manage their mental health needs, often resulting in the need for more costly health care services and leading to worse health outcomes.
Currently, all state Medicaid programs must cover NEMT, which helps people get transportation to necessary medical care, including mental health care. People enrolled in Medicaid are significantly more likely to receive care through recommended medical appointments when using NEMT, and the majority of individuals on Medicaid agree that they would not be able to keep medical appointments without it. NEMT is particularly important for people with mental illness, since behavioral health services are the most frequently cited reason for using NEMT.
NEMT represents only a small share of Medicaid spending, yet it helps people access timely medical care, preventing more costly trips like ambulance rides to the emergency room. The use of NEMT results in an average monthly savings of $1,300 per person. Protecting NEMT benefits is an important way for people to get the services and supports they need to get well and stay well.
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