Good for community transit
Community Transportation Association of America
Congress is considering legislation that is intended to rein in federal
spending and reduce the budget deficits that have accumulated over the
past few years.
The House version of this "budget reconciliation"
bill contains provisions that break new ground in recognizing the essential
value of public and community transportation to our nation's lower income
families, and paves the way toward helping ensure that these people
who most need community transportation will be able to get to vital
health care, child care and supportive services.
Two sections of the House budget reconciliation bill are especially
important to us.
Sec. 3125 would amend the Medicaid program to allow
states to provide non-emergency medical transportation through brokerages
or other arrangements. The federal share of these expenses would be
at the generally higher "medical services" rate, but with
no requirements for states to have "freedom-of-choice" or
This change will allow more Medicaid beneficiaries to
get the transportation they need to and from doctors and other medical
services, and will allow this transportation to be provided in ways
that the Congressional Budget Office has estimated will actually save
the federal government some money.
The Community Transportation Association acknowledges the leadership
shown by Representative Nathan Deal (R-Ga.), chairman of the House Energy
and Commerce Committee's Health Subcommittee, along with our private-
and public-sector members in Georgia who worked diligently at helping
several key Congressional offices and committees recognize the importance
of allowing this critical mobility service to be offered in a cost-effective
Sec. 8117 of the House budget reconciliation bill is
part of a complete reauthorization of the Temporary Assistance for Needy
Families (TANF) program. There are numerous transit-friendly provisions
of the House TANF legislation, but this section is the most significant,
as it would allow states to use TANF funds to help support transportation
and child care services without regard to the time limits associated
with other TANF benefits or expenses.
These provisions, and the rest of the House budget reconciliation bill,
first were drafted by eight different House committees, and then assembled
and approved by the House Budget Committee on Thursday, Nov. 3. House
floor action on this legislation is expected in the coming week.
The Senate passed its budget reconciliation bill earlier this week (week
of Oct. 31). The Senate bill does not include any TANF reauthorization.
Although the Senate's budget bill does make some modifications to the
Medicaid program, it does not include the transportation-specific language
of the House bill.
Thus, in order for that language to become law, the House
has to pass its budget bill, and then maintain those provisions when
House and Senate negotiators meet to hammer out a conference agreement.