- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 23, 2015

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The Nebraska Public Service Commission has ordered that taxi companies cannot force elderly and disabled people whose rides are paid for by Medicaid to share taxis with others.

Omaha-based Happy Cab, which doesn’t transport multiple people without passengers’ permission, filed a complaint against Lincoln-based Servant Cab, which did. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services said the federal government encourages cabs to take multiple riders because it saves money. The department said it has the authority to instruct taxis to multi-load because the state pays the fare.

The Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/1MwdMPp ) reports that the service commission, which is an independent agency that regulates taxi companies, wrote a Dec. 15 opinion disputing the health department. The commission says consent must be received from the first passenger, regardless of who is paying for the fare.

According to the commission, since the person paying the taxi fare is not a passenger in these instances, then the “fare-paying passenger and the ‘first passenger’ are considered one in the same.”

The decision may affect thousands of Nebraska residents whose nonemergency medical transportation, such as rides to doctor visits or rides home from the hospital, is paid for by Medicaid and arranged by a state contractor.

The commission says that it plans to revisit the multi-loading issue again and possibly change regulatory language to make the rules clearer.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com


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