$7M in Mobility Grants for Healthcare Transport

Funded by the FAST Act, Rides to Wellness mobility grants are funding 19 projects in 16 states to enable transportation to healthcare appointments.

The Federal Transit Administration launched Rides to Wellness as a partnership between health and transportation providers. The goals of the program are to increase access to healthcare and improve outcomes while reducing healthcare costs. Last month, FTA announced awards totaling $7.3 million in mobility grants for 19 healthcare transport projects in 16 states.

Currently, 3.6 million Americans miss or delay medical appointments every year because they lack a ride, according to FTA, which has joined with other agencies to address mobility challenges to healthcare access and find solutions. Last year, FTA and the National Center for Mobility Management hosted a summit with Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Veterans Affairs to kick off Rides to Wellness.

As our approach to healthcare is transformed by the Affordable Care Act and good health care practices are now within reach for more Americans, we need to remove barriers for the newly insured to be able to get to regular check-ups, especially if they don’t have access to a car,” wrote Therese McMillen, former FTA Acting Administrator, following the summit.

The FAST Act includes the discretionary funding for Rides to Wellness mobility grants for five years beginning in 2016. The first mobility grants fund innovative, replicable projects that coordinate non-emergency medical transportation. This could include deployment of coordination technologies, projects that create or increase transportation to communities in need and development of new “One-Call/One-Click Centers,” which the FTA along with the Veterans Transportation and Community Living Initiative developed to support service members.

The grant-funded projects “fix a disconnect between how to use public transportation – finding the right line, the right stop and right time – to get to healthcare appointments,” wrote Carolyn Flowers, current FTA Acting Administrator recently on the Fast Lane blog.

Other projects train travel coordinators who align appointments with bus and rail schedules or use technology to connect medical scheduling software and online transit schedules, such as the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) project. JTA received a $399,200 Rides to Wellness mobility grant to develop such a system for healthcare receptionists and patients. When a patient makes an appointment, they will know which bus to ride and how much the fare will be.

FindMyRidePA, a One-call, One-click Center and real-time transportation service serving a three-county area in central Pennsylvania will receive $1.19 million to build and deploy the program statewide.

Read about all the Rides to Wellness mobility grant recipients on FTA’s website.

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