Medicaid pays millions for patient transportation. Sometimes the ride never comes

In an investigation for Georgia Health News, reporter Rebecca Grapevine found that transportation services for Medicaid beneficiaries often leave clients waiting for hours for rides that sometimes never arrive. State Medicaid programs are required to provide transportation to and from healthcare appointments, and they contract with large transportation brokers to provide these services for millions of dollars. During an initial reporting trip to rural southwest Georgia, Grapevine learned that doctors cited the lack of reliable transportation as a major barrier to Medicaid patients’ access to healthcare. With a grant from the Fund, she filed open records requests to learn how Georgia’s state Medicaid agency regulates the transportation brokers. She examined federal and state court records that described problems with safety and timely service for patients across the country, and she interviewed patients. Grapevine also found that transportation brokers donated to Georgia Republicans, who have controlled state offices in the state for nearly two decades. Her reporting was cited by Sens. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who called for improvements in the Medicaid transportation system.