|By Christine Vestal, Stateline.org|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
For supporters of the Affordable Care Act, it meant coverage for the millions of uninsured Americans who live in states that have resisted
Now, as more states craft their own versions of what is known as the "private option" – and
At issue are so-called "wraparound" benefits, such as free rides to doctor's offices, designed to give low-income people the same kind of care and health outcomes as people with higher incomes. Such benefits typically are not included in private insurance plans.
Non-emergency transportation may be the most prominent "wraparound" benefit, but it is not the only one.
Other benefits include the periodic screening, diagnosis and treatment of children and young adults for conditions such as lead poisoning, malnutrition and mental illness, as well as limits on co-pays and premiums, which can prompt people to do without care.
Middle-class people with private insurance don't expect any of these benefits to be included in their policies. "But for low-income people with no discretionary income, these services make a huge difference," said policy analyst
Supporters of the private option argue that newly eligible
Republican lawmakers in
But Simon argued that providing transportation actually saves states money because it allows patients to see doctors regularly in their offices_perhaps avoiding a health crisis requiring an emergency ambulance ride to the hospital.
According to a new report from the
Eighteen percent of the rides were for dialysis treatments, and 6 percent were for routine visits to doctors' offices. Other destinations included adult day care, outpatient surgery facilities, cancer treatment centers, pharmacies, smoking cessation and weight loss centers and physical therapy facilities.
But when it approved
"I'd be really surprised if we see any more straight
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Distributed by MCT Information Services
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