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Health Care and Transportation in Rural Communities


Getting to medical appointments becomes increasingly difficult for older adults as they age, especially for those living in rural communities without transportation. The availability of rural public transit can be a lifeline for older adults accessing necessary medical care. AARP produced this fact sheet, as part of its mobility agenda, to examine the relationship between health care and transportation for seniors living in rural communities.

Key Points

The fact sheet provides a discussion of the obstacles older adults living in rural communities face in accessing needed medical services due to long distances and lack of public transit options. Access to health care is an important purpose of local transit programs, especially in rural areas. Many rural communities offer some form of non-emergency medical transportation services provided by volunteer driver programs that ensure older adults will be able to access medical care when they need it.

Other report highlights include:

  1. The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is partially intended to impact medically-related transportation and delivery of medical services.
  2. Medicaid spending on transportation far exceeds specialized transportation expenditures of other federal agencies.
  3. Medicaid transportation expense is nearly 10 times the Federal Transit Administration’s specialized transportation budget.

How to Use

The fact sheet provides an overview of the connection between accessing health care and public transit services, as well as discusses funding options for health care reforms that will impact the availability of public transit in rural communities. Local government officials can use this fact sheet to better understand the importance of public transportation options, particularly for older adults facing difficulties in accessing needed medical services due to long distance and mobility limitations.

View full report: Health Care and Transportation in Rural Communities – (PDF – 241 KB)

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