The rubber meets the road when our members hit Capitol Hill.
The Transportation Alliance held its annual Legislative Fly-In
on June 5. Transportation leaders from around the country held more than 50
policy meetings with Congressional members on the Hill to underscore our
industry’s two main legislative priorities at the moment,
First, The Alliance is urging Congress to pass legislation ensuring
Medicaid Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) remains protected in order
to continue serving the 3.6 million low-income Americans who depend on it for
lifesaving medical appointments and treatments.
Second, The Alliance is urging Congress to create
legislation requiring that for-hire drivers funded by federal dollars undergo
an FBI fingerprint-based background check and drug and alcohol screening to
keep passengers safe.
Third, our members called for the
General Services Administration to give more time for our industry to respond
to a draft request for proposals for procuring transportation services for
federal employees in 50 U.S. cities. Three offices we met with issued letters
to GSA on the same day we met with them.
Prior to heading out for their individual meetings, members
heard from two Congressional representatives. Representative Sandford Bishop
(D-GA), who serves on the House Appropriations Committee, discussed efforts to
protect NEMT funding.
Representative Bishop and The Transportation Alliance
recently participated in an important victory for NEMT, Bishop said. Bishop
sent a letter (signed by 60 organizations) to Representative Rosa DeLauro
(D-CT) opposing changes to Medicaid regulations that would have allowed states
to eliminate NEMT.
“This change would have wreaked havoc on the delivery of
healthcare, especially in rural areas,” Bishop said. Some 60,000 individuals
fighting the most chronic of health conditions—cancer, HIV, substance-abuse
disorder, and end-stage renal disease—would not have been able to travel to
pharmacies, he said.
“Ending Medicaid coverage would literally have been a matter
of life and death for these individuals,” Bishop said.
The result of Representative Bishop’s effort was legislative
language in the appropriations bill to block funding of the implementation of
this rule change. Following the inclusion of this language, Bishop’s office
received word that Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services would not
promulgate the rule until at least after 2020.
“When we act, together, we can delay and stop bad policy and
protect our most vulnerable citizens,” Bishop said.
Bishop also applauded The Transportation Alliance for
advocating fingerprint background checks and drug testing for drivers who
provide passenger transportation funded by federal dollars, calling it “common
Next up, Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI), who serves on
the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, also addressed The Transportation Alliance
members. Last year, Dingell introduced legislation on autonomous vehicles that
unanimously passed the House before stalling in the Senate.
Dingell emphasized the need for national policy frameworks
for autonomous vehicles.
“What role is the federal government going to have?” Dingell
asked. “What role will the states have? What are the liability issues going to
be? What are the safety issues?”
Dingell said she is not optimistic there will be an
autonomous bill this Congress, but she’ll continue to press for the regulatory
Dingell does not believe, as she had previously, that AVs will
be prevalent soon. “It’s not going to
be three years (from now),” she said. “Consumers don’t have the confidence, and
we don’t have the infrastructure.”
“If Uber can’t get you to the right place with a driver in
the car, we’re not ready for driverless cars,” she added.
Dingell also expressed concern that the US is falling behind
China and Europe on electric vehicles. The US needs improved infrastructure for
“carbonless” vehicles and reasonably priced batteries offering longer vehicle
ranges. This delay could not only make America and its manufacturers substantially
weakened trade partners in the future, but “our lagging investment in electric
vehicles is a national security issue,” Dingell said.
Member response to the Legislative Fly-In was overwhelmingly
positive. We want to thank the many elected leaders and their staff members who
helped make our efforts worthwhile.
“When we work to help our officials in Washington understand the ground
truth on transportation, we all help strengthen this great country of ours,”
said Terry O’Toole, president of The Transportation Alliance. “Thank you to all
our members who came to Washington with their ideas, their concerns and their
considerable expertise on important issues such as safety and protecting
transportation for vulnerable Americans. It’s these men and women who are the
true transportation leaders of our country.”
By Dave Sutton