Landmark Case

Harris v. James

Case Number

94-1422-N

Securing federally-mandated transportation
In 1994, the Center challenged Alabama's failure to provide Medicaid recipients with medically necessary transportation as mandated by federal law.

Many Center clients were dialysis patients who had to go without food to pay for transportation to regularly scheduled treatments. Some were even forced to miss appointments altogether. One client died shortly after the lawsuit was filed, due to problems that might have been exacerbated by her inability to get regular treatment.

The Center recognized that, for poor and often rural patients, transportation is a crucial health care issue. Patients requiring dialysis, maternity care, and chronically ill patients are especially vulnerable.

In 1995, a federal judge ordered the state to implement a new transportation assistance program. Although the case was later overturned on appeal, the State's program instated in 1996 continues, with thousands of Medicaid recipients receiving non-emergency transportation assistance.