Lyft and Medicaid Pilot Program to Increase Transportation Services for People with Disabilities
May 12, 2019 (Atlanta, GA) – Lyft and Medicaid have launched the Georgia Medicaid Waiver Lyft Transportation Initiative to increase access to transportation for people with developmental disabilities, in partnership with the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD).
The idea for the new ride-share initiative came when mother and advocate, Carol Pryor, noticed her daughter Jenny’s Medicaid funds for transportation had not been used for the past six years. And at the time, Jenny was paying out-of-pocket for Lyft services to go to and from work.
“Every Medicaid waiver recipient has a PA budget, and there is a line item for transportation,” Pryor said. “It shows the different services that are provided to that individual. Transportation is among the services that are offered through Medicaid waivers.”
Pryor advocated and worked to connect Jenny’s need for Lyft transportation to the corresponding line item in her Prior Authorization (PA) budget. After determining the ride-share service met the DBHDD common or commercial carriers’ guidelines and regulations for participant-directed services, the pilot initiative was born allowing Medicaid to pay for the transportation.
Similarly, David Bryan, also a participant of the pilot program, uses a provider that works with Medicaid to ensure his PA funds are used for transportation services.
He previously relied on MARTA Mobility for transportation but now uses the Jewish Family and Career Services (JFCS), a concierge partner with Lyft. JFCS provides Alterman/JETS Transportation to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) for getting to work and other destinations on weekdays, but the Lyft concierge portal offers additional benefits.
“We can monitor where the Lyft driver is by looking at a screen and call them, if necessary, and say, ‘Not that building, this one,’” said Jean Millkey, JFCS office and transportation manager. “So, it gives some security to those with developmental disabilities, who can be intimidated by the thought of arranging their own ride.”
Currently, Bryan and Jenny are the only two participants using the pilot models for the Georgia Medicaid Waiver Lyft Transportation Initiative. But, it appears unlikely that there will be others in the near future.
According to Amy Riedesel, DBHDD Director of Community Services, while the department stands behind the project and recognizes the value, there are other waiver amendments being considered at the moment, and this is not one of them.
In Fitzgerald, GA, advocates sought a different, innovative option.
Rural areas have a more essential need for reliable transportation options. Jill Alexander, a former Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) Community Builder and Council advisor, saw the need to bring a van service to Ben Hill County.
With Council support, Fitzgerald residents rallied around the idea of a local transportation system. Once there was community buy-in, People First of Georgia and GCDD’s Real Communities helped figure out the path for the new transit system.
The community decided on a local special option sales tax as a way of building their own transit system. Those efforts successfully created Ben Hill Transit System Vans in July 2015, which now has six operating vans. Rides are scheduled 24 hours in advance and a regular one-way ride is just $3.
For more on what advocates across Georgia are doing to meet their transportation needs, read the spring edition of GCDD’s Making a Difference magazine.
About the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities: The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) is the State's leader in advancing public policy on behalf of persons with developmental disabilities. Its mission is to bring about social and policy changes that promote opportunities for persons with developmental disabilities and their families to live, learn, work, play and worship in Georgia communities. www.gcdd.org
Hillary Hibben, Media Relations Director
Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities
404.657.2121 (office) | 470.698.3062 (cell)