Ward Bill Limiting State-Funded Transportation to Methadone Clinics Headed to Governor

Harrisburg – Legislation sponsored by Sen. Kim Ward (R-39) that enacts limits on taxpayer-funded transportation for methadone clients received final legislative approval today and will be sent to the governor for enactment.

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.

“A program that provides taxpayer-funded transportation without strict guidelines is a program ripe for abuse and overspending,” said Ward. “Limiting such expenditures makes sense in the best of times. In today’s economy, when the Commonwealth is faced with limited resources, it’s absolutely essential.”

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 millions 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.

“The savings this legislation is expected to produce are substantial, but it’s just one step in what must be an ongoing, comprehensive effort to save tax dollars,” said Ward. “State departments and agencies must justify every expense, so that they do what Pennsylvania families have been doing for some time, and that’s living within their means.”

The Senate originally approved Senate Bill 638 in June, and today concurred with House amendments to the bill, sending it to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

Contact:  Tom Aikens
(724) 600-7002