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Franken seeks to reimburse volunteer drivers of seniors

U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) recently continued his push to ensure that volunteers who provide low-income seniors with rides to medical visits are reimbursed for their entire trip.

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Currently, Medicaid rules only allow states to reimburse volunteer drivers when the patient is in their vehicle, so many drivers are only reimbursed for a portion of their total mileage.

As a result, many drivers, particularly in remote areas of the state who have to drive long distances, have stopped volunteering because of fuel costs.

“The many volunteers who help Minnesota’s rural seniors get to their doctor appointments make a huge difference in helping their communities,” said Franken. “The problem right now is that the volunteers are only reimbursed for their mileage when the patient is actually in the car.

“And taking on the burden of paying for the rest of their gas often forces them to stop volunteering, which means the government often has to pay for a taxi.”

The Recruiting Individuals to Drive Our Elders (RIDE) Act would allow states to reimburse volunteer drivers for miles they drive in order to get to a Medicaid beneficiary’s home or to return home after volunteering.

This would allow states to make use of more volunteer drivers, reducing those states’ dependency on taxis and other more expensive options.