Medical transport companies to have increased regulations

KAYENTA, Ariz. — On Nov. 21, the Health, Education and Human Services Committee (HEHSC) discussed regulating non-emergency medical transport companies operating on the Navajo Nation to 10, with a fee attached for providing service.

The committee received a report from Sacred Mountain Medical Transport, a Navajo-owned company that provides non-emergency medical transport for Navajo Nation citizens from their home to health care clinics and hospitals.

Chief Operating Officer Jacob Brock said his company has encountered challenges with providing adequate services because of competition and the lack of regulation of non-Navajo-owned transport companies operating on Navajo land.

Brock said he would like to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Navajo Nation to begin the process of being designated as a preferred transport business.

HEHSC chair Council Delegate Jonathan Hale (Oak Springs, St. Michaels) said the committee has begun looking into drafting legislation to begin regulating non-emergency medical transport companies on the Navajo Nation because of complaints from Navajo citizens regarding the lack of safety and basic medical training that some transportation businesses have.

“I would recommend that [Mr. Brock] send us a one-page written document acknowledging the relationship you have with public safety and your compliance with business regulatory on the Navajo Nation,” Hale said. “Send us language to include in the legislation and we will push this through [the Navajo Nation] Council.”

Hale added that it is time the Navajo Nation begins regulating the transport companies and proposed that there would only be 10 Navajo-owned transport businesses that will serve the Nation. Currently, there are over 200 different transport companies that operate on Navajo land and many do not have the same credentials as Sacred Mountain Medical Transport.

Brock said his non-emergency medical transport company currently works with Navajo public safety entities, drivers are trained in CPR and first aid, have the required insurance requirements, and his company is able to provide transportation off the Nation to larger health care facilities in areas like Flagstaff and Phoenix.

Hale said the committee would like to develop a regulatory plan that mirrors what the White Mountain Apache Tribe has implemented, which allows only 10 transport companies on their land and the companies would pay approximately $3,000-$10,000 a month to the Navajo Nation to improve other areas of health care for Navajo citizens.

“The Navajo Nation is a sovereign entity and we allow these services to take place, and it is important that our Navajo people feel safe when utilizing these companies, and at the same time it will benefit Navajo business owners financially and give back to their communities,” Hale said.

Hale recommended that after the committee receives the written document with suggested legislation language from Brock, they hold a work session to begin devising a regulatory plan for non-emergency medical transport companies operating on the Navajo Nation.

HEHSC members voted 3-0 to accept the report.

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