5 more state Medicaid programs sign on with Lyft for nonemergency transport

Lyft is growing its reach in Medicaid to five more states, the ride-sharing platform announced Thursday.

Medicaid programs in Georgia, Michigan, Tennessee, Virginia and Missouri will cover eligible nonemergency medical transport (NEMT) rides through Lyft's platform, reaching 9 million additional people.

Lyft announced over the summer that Arizona's Medicaid program would cover its services, marking the first such agreement between a state Medicaid program and a national ride-sharing program.

"With the support of both Medicaid programs and health plans to include rideshare as a transportation provider type, we now have the potential to positively impact the lives of millions more across the country—with an average of 17% of the population in these six states enrolled in Medicaid," Lyft's healthcare team wrote in a blog post.

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In these arrangements, Lyft works with an NEMT broker to provide rides to qualified Medicaid enrollees. The ride-sharing platform collaborates with local Medicaid leaders to make their model fit the needs of the individual states.

In Tennessee, for example, state officials were concerned about access to doctors' visits, so they joined forces with Lyft to design the pilot, according to the blog post.

“The entire healthcare community, especially Medicaid programs, are recognizing the outsized impact that social determinants of health have on impacting the well-being and health outcomes of individuals,” said Victor Wu, M.D., chief medical officer at TennCare, in the post.

Lyft and its main competitor, Uber, have both put a focus on Medicaid as a key market as they make significant moves into healthcare. The ride-share companies have made a strong push into the healthcare space, bolstered by data that suggest patients are already using these platforms regularly to get to doctors' appointments and other nonemergency care. 

Amid talk in the industry of addressing the social determinants of care, ride-sharing platforms offer an opportunity to address transportation—a key one. Research shows that access to ride-shares can reduce wait times for care and reduce costs by improving access. 

Regulators at the federal level have also opened doors for these companies to grow their healthcare business, as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is allowing for greater use of supplemental benefits in Medicare Advantage—including transportation. Lyft has also flagged Medicare Advantage as a focus for its healthcare business.