CMS announced that it “finalized polices for Medicare health and drug plans for 2019 that will save Medicare beneficiaries money on prescription drugs while offering additional plan choices.”

While the announcement focuses on prescription drug pricing, the additional plan choices means the agency is “reinterpreting the standards for health-related supplemental benefits.”  CMS will now allow supplemental benefits if they “compensate for physical impairments, diminish the impact of injuries or health conditions, and/or reduce avoidable emergency room utilization.”

Bruce Japsen of Forbes wrote that Uber and Lyft will likely be included in these benefits to transport seniors to doctors in on-emergency situations.

The precedent has been set for almost 20 years with non-emergency transportation providers like Cleveland-based, Provide A Ride, a van service for Medicaid and Medicare MCO transportation benefit programs.

Plus, for Medicare Advantage plans, promoting and contracting new additional plan choices can become a marketable difference for 2019.

Additional services Medicare Advantage plans could pay for in 2019 include the following:

  • Adult day care
  • In-home support services to help with disabilities/medical conditions perform activities of daily living within the home
  • Short-term “respite care” or other support services for family caregivers.  This provides short-term relief for up to five days for primary caregivers
  • Making non-Medicare-covered safety changes (e.g. installation of grab bars, chair lifts etc.), to help people remain in their homes
  • Plus, as noted, non-emergency transportation to health care services

By the way, Lyft and Uber are already immersed in transportation for health care appointments.  The reason?  Make sure that patients absolutely do show up for appointments.

Uber Health is now live after an eight-month trial with 100 health care providers. Lyft has launched Lyft Concierge.  According to Lyft, the “partnership with AllScripts is an important step forward. AllScripts’ seamless integration with the Concierge API will enable any provider to request Lyft rides for up to 7.2 million patients directly within their platform.”