Advocacy Alert

Urge Your Lawmakers to Support Essential Health System Designation

Essential Hospitals and States: Confronting Transportation Barriers to Improve Health

March 18, 2019

Access to affordable, reliable transportation has a deep connection to whether individuals can live healthy lives. This vital need can determine whether a doctor appointment is missed, prescriptions are filled, and conditions are treated before they develop into more costly and complex issues.

Communities served by essential hospitals — those dedicated to high-quality care for all, including the vulnerable — experience a disproportionate prevalence of transportation barriers, creating a substantial clinical and financial burden. But this challenge also creates an opportunity for essential hospitals, in conjunction with state policy levers and resources, to help mitigate such barriers.

Separately or in combination, state policy environments and essential hospital efforts can improve access to transportation and foster better health for patients and communities.

Essential Hospitals and States: Confronting Transportation Barriers to Improve Health


  • Access to transportation is a social determinant of health that influences health outcomes, affects access to health care, and intersects with other social determinants.
  • Transportation barriers disproportionately affect low-income, vulnerable communities, contributing to health disparities.
  • Essential hospitals are implementing efforts to reduce transportation barriers for their patients and communities.
  • States offer eligible patients reliable transportation to and from health care appointments as a mandatory Medicaid benefit and have invested in transportation infrastructure to promote access to care and healthier lifestyles.
  • Leveraging state resources to provide transportation for eligible patients can enable essential hospitals to target resources upstream, reducing transportation barriers at the community level.

An accompanying April 17 webinar reviewed how the brief can help essential hospitals influence this social determinant of health. Rani Morrison, senior director of care continuum at the University of Illinois Health & Hospital System, in Chicago, highlighted the system’s PRONTO program, which provided Lyft rides for patients transitioning out of hospital care.

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