In times of continuing tight budgets, it makes sense for the government to make sure taxpayer dollars go as far as possible - which in the case of transportation for methadone treatment, means having vehicles travel the shortest distance possible.
Starting Jan. 21, the Department of Public Welfare's Medical Assistance Transportation Program will only pay for medical assistance recipients to be taken to the methadone clinic closest to their home for their daily treatments, Capitolwire reports.
Potentially, this could save taxpayers $1.796 million year - $921,000 for the state and $875,000 for the federal government, state Senate and House appropriations committees said.
It's a change that makes so much sense that it's amazing - or perhaps disheartening - that these regulations were not put in place previously.
A press release from the legislation's sponsor, Sen. Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, said medical assistance recipients have been permitted to select where they go for their methadone treatments, even when the state was picking up the transportation costs.
It's a significant expense.
Ward said Pennsylvania spent $35.2 million transporting methadone patients in the 2009-10 fiscal year, an increase of 26 percent from 2007-08.
In her release, Ward said in her district, the state is paying $180 a day to transport one patient to the methadone clinic of his choice.
That's a luxury that taxpayers should not be forced to bear.
The Senate Appropriations Committee said based on Department of Public Welfare information, 591 methadone patients will be affected monthly by the rule change. Each will see the transportation reimbursement from taxpayers fall an average of $253 a month. That will add up to save taxpayers about $150,000 a month.
At a time in which every dollar is being squeezed, it's important to look for ways to cut costs. This new law does that by keeping down the transportation costs, while continuing to make sure those who are battling opiate addictions can receive their daily treatments.
This is the type of savings that officials need to look for on all levels of government.