PROVIDENCE, RI – Today, the McKee Administration's Executive Office of Health and Human Services announced that is is releasing an RFQ (Request For Qualifications) for the state's non-emergency medical transportation program. The RFP will be available later this evening on the state's purchasing website, https://www.ridop.ri.gov.
"As part of our Administration's Rhode Island 2030 Plan, we are building a state health system that supports affordable and accessible services to maximize good health outcomes for all Rhode Islanders," said Governor Dan McKee. "The Rhode Islanders who rely on this essential transportation service deserve nothing less than safe, high-quality care every time they need a ride."
Rhode Island's non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) program serves as a critical link to human services for Rhode Islanders who require transportation. The NEMT program serves eligible and enrolled Medicaid beneficiaries, Rhode Island residents over the age of 60 who need transportation under the Elderly Transportation Program (ETP) and also manages monthly bus pass distribution under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program.
Rhode Island implemented an NEMT broker model in 2014, when it initially contracted with the company LogistiCare. In January of 2019, the State issued a new NEMT RFP and contracted with current provider MTM. The company facilitates approximately 5,350 trips per day and 160,000 trips each month.
At the direction of Governor McKee, EOHHS conducted extensive stakeholder engagement to gather feedback on the current Rhode Island NEMT Program and to explore opportunities for improvements to prepare for this RFQ. This outreach included virtual focus groups with members, community advocates, transportation providers, health care facilities, health care trade associations, Managed Care Organizations, and Accountable Entities. EOHHS also participated in an interagency review of the NEMT program convened by the Governor's Office with other state agencies including the Rhode Island Public Transportation Authority, the Office of Healthy Aging and the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission. Additionally, EOHHS consulted with other state Medicaid agencies and reviewed over 20 of their NEMT contracts to strengthen contractor performance under the Rhode Island NEMT program and align with national best practice standards.
"We greatly appreciate the feedback we received from non-emergency medical transportation customers, healthcare providers and advocates," said Executive Office of Health and Human Services Acting Secretary Ana Novais. "Many of the changes made to this new RFQ came directly from these listening sessions and lessons learned from other state Medicaid agencies that run similar broker models."
This new RFQ includes several improvements taken from stakeholder feedback and research of other state NEMT models. This RFQ will build upon the current NEMT broker model by enhancing quality and safety assurances, EOHHS oversight and financial management through steps including:
- Utilizing EOHHS' contracted external quality review organization to provide annual audits of the chosen contractor;
- An annual review by EOHHS of the contractor's performance, including its transportation providers, through a report card or rating system;
- Promoting greater transparency of EOHHS' oversight activities, including publication of corrective actions and remediation activities on EOHHS' website;
- Specific timeframes for reporting critical incidents to EOHHS and developing standard protocols between the contractor and EOHHS;
- A standardized credentialing process to ensure that providers are credentialed in a timely manner and have all relevant credentials reviewed by the contractor through a routine process;
- Providing enhanced safety and special considerations related to the transportation of minors and special populations related to the dispatch of ride share services;
- Increasing opportunities for member feedback and ways for members to file complaints, grievances and appeals without fear of retaliation by the contractor or its subcontractors;
- Developing a standardized fee schedule for transportation providers to promote payment transparency;
- Ensuring better financial oversight practices to ensure the quality and economy of services, including conducting a yearly independent financial audit; and
- Requiring the contractor to employ a DEI Officer to promote diversity, equity and inclusion within organizational management – the first such requirement in the country;
- Requiring additional trainings for transportation providers, with specific attention on wheelchair training and cultural sensitivity.
"These improvements will ensure greater transparency, accountability and safety for those who rely on this transportation for their healthcare needs," said Medicaid Program Director Kristin Sousa. "EOHHS is committed to continuously improving these services."