Atkins told legislators Wednesday the contract for a non-medical transportation broker would give the DHHR a way to verify and manage transportation expenses.
"The intent is to save money for Medicaid . . . and to make sure Medicaid members have safe and adequate transportation," she said.
As part of the bid package, Atkins said, the broker would be required to offer contracts to all EMS units and VFDs that currently provide non-emergency transportation, and at the current Medicaid reimbursement rate.
"Our proposal says the broker must offer contracts to these entities," she said.
In November, a group representing ambulance crews from around the state rallied at the Capitol to oppose the DHHR contract for a transportation broker and to seek an exemption for local EMS providers.
On Wednesday, several legislators, including Delegate Margaret Staggers, D-Fayette, pointed out that the Legislature soundly defeated a Tomblin administration bill to put the Medicaid transportation broker into law.
"We defeated a bill to do this, and I'm not really sure how you can just do this now," she said.
Atkins said DHHR attorneys concluded that the department has authority to contract with a transportation broker, as 41 other states already have done.
Sen. Ron Stollings, D-Lincoln, said he would think Medicaid expansion, covering those with incomes of up to 133 percent of the poverty level, should offset any impact on ambulance providers from the transportation broker contract.
Noting that about 75,000 West Virginians have already signed up under the Medicaid expansion, Stollings said, "If anything, you would think business would go up by necessity."
Three companies submitted bids Monday for the non-emergency transportation broker contract: Access2Care LLC, of Greenwood Village, Colo.; Logistic Solutions LLC, of Atlanta; and MTM Inc., of Lake St. Louis, Mo.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.