Congressional leaders are aiming to kill a Trump administration proposal to weaken Medicaid transportation services that are crucial to many nursing home residents.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is expected to issue a rule soon that would make it optional for states to cover such non-emergency transportation services, as part of a larger bid to slash $143 billion from Medicaid. However, the Congressional Black Caucus is pushing a spending restriction that would prevent the rule from moving forward, Inside Health Policy reported Monday.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) called non-emergency transportation services a “vital component” of the healthcare system, especially for elderly individuals with disabilities. She noted that about 1 in 10 Medicaid beneficiaries use the benefit, but it accounts for just 1% of the program’s spending.

“This is what allows so many — 10% of Medicaid patients — to be able to continue living,” said Bishop, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, which supports the spending restriction.  

Such transportation services — often used for dialysis, doctor visits or physical therapy — have been mandatory since Medicaid’s inception. CMS, however, has granted states such as Indiana and Iowa waivers to cut back on the offering. Insiders hinted in March that the rule change was forthcoming, but the House Appropriations Committee’s amendment to the proposed Fiscal 2020 spending plan, which it approved last Wednesday, could pump the breaks. The change was requested by members of both parties and the Black Caucus, after dozens of advocacy groups, including LeadingAge, had expressed opposition to the proposal.