Senate Approves Ward Bill Limiting State-Funded Transportation to Methadone Clinics

Mandating use of closest clinics will save taxpayers an estimated $1.8 million.

Harrisburg, PA – Today the State Senate approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Kim Ward (R-39) that enacts limits on transportation for methadone clients who are part of the Medicaid Transportation program.

Under Senate Bill 638, the Department of Public Welfare would require that individuals who receive methadone treatment services, covered by Medicaid under the Medical Assistance Transportation Program, receive treatment at the clinic closest to their residence if they are using para-transit services by taxi or bus; or being reimbursed mileage for using their own vehicles.

“At a time when the Commonwealth is faced with the challenge of producing a balanced budget with tight resources, we need to place commonsense limits on expenditures such as this,” said Ward.

Currently, methadone recipients choose their preferred service location and the cost of the transportation is paid with tax dollars. The transportation costs totaled $32.5 million in 2009-10, an increase of 26.3 percent from 2007-08. More than one in three trips paid for through the Medical Assistance Transportation Program (MATP) is for methadone maintenance.

According to DPW, the legislation is expected to produce at least $1.8 million in savings.

The state Medical Assistance Transportation Program (MATP) provides transportation to individuals who are receiving methadone treatments by either reimbursing those with private vehicles at a rate of 25 cents per mile or by providing rides in vans and taxis with little accountability regarding the most cost-effective mode of transportation to the clinic.

“We must be vigilant in identifying and eliminating waste wherever possible. This bill represents more than just saving dollars from this one program, it represents the opportunity to gain additional savings as we move forward looking at many other line items in the budget,” said Ward.

Senate Bill 638 will be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Contact:  Tom Aikens
(724) 600-7002