Non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) provides rides to non-urgent medical appointments for people who do not have transportation. Starting an NEMT business in Georgia can be a rewarding endeavor for those looking to fill a transportation need in their community. This guide covers the basics of starting an NEMT business in Georgia.
Determine the Business Structure
The first step is deciding on a business structure. Common options for NEMT businesses include sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or corporation. Factors like liability protection, taxes, and number of owners should be considered when choosing a structure. For NEMT businesses, an LLC offers personal liability protection while allowing pass-through taxation.
Apply for Necessary Licenses and Permits
NEMT businesses in Georgia need a few state licenses and permits. These include a business license, motor carrier certificate, and certificate of public necessity and convenience. Livery licenses are needed for each vehicle along with commercial registration and insurance. Driver requirements like background checks and drug testing must also be met.
Develop Required Policies and Procedures
NEMT companies must establish policies and procedures that comply with regulations. These cover areas like driver hiring and training, vehicle maintenance, HIPAA compliance, onboarding procedures, complaint processes, and more. Having detailed policies shows commitment to safety, regulatory compliance, and quality of service.
Secure Contracts with Healthcare Facilities
Building relationships with healthcare facilities is key to getting transportation contracts. Network locally and pitch the benefits of your NEMT service. Be prepared to go through a thorough vendor credentialing process. Having all state licenses, ample insurance coverage, and a reliable fleet of vehicles makes securing contracts easier.
Purchase and Outfit Vehicles
The NEMT fleet should be comprised of safe, comfortable vehicles that can accommodate passengers’ needs. This may include wheelchair accessible vans. Make sure all vehicles meet state safety and insurance requirements. Equip them with first aid kits, fire extinguishers, blankets, and other supplies. Install camera systems to monitor drivers and passengers.
Hire and Train Drivers
Drivers should be licensed, drug tested, and have clean driving records. Conduct thorough background checks during the hiring process. Provide training on NEMT regulations, documentation procedures, HIPAA, CPR, sensitivity, accessibility, and defensive driving. Maintain detailed personnel files for each driver.
Market Your NEMT Business
Spread the word about your NEMT business through websites, social media, print ads, and by networking with healthcare facilities. Focus marketing on the transit-dependent population in need of NEMT services. Build rapport in the community by emphasizing safety, compassion, and reliability.
Set Rates and Accept Payment
Decide how much to charge riders based on mileage, wait time, and type of trip. Many NEMT businesses bill the healthcare facilities directly when they have contracts. Be sure to also accept private pay and any NEMT vouchers from insurers or public transit programs.
Maintain Regulatory Compliance
Stay up to date on all federal, state, and local regulations that apply to NEMT. Areas to monitor include licensing, driver requirements, vehicle standards, HIPAA, and billing procedures. Maintain accurate records to prove compliance in case of an audit.
By following these key steps, you can successfully start an NEMT business in Georgia. Pay close attention to licensing, insurance requirements, hiring safe drivers, securing healthcare facility contracts, and delivering compassionate service. This will lead to a thriving NEMT operation that fills a great transportation need.