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Posts from the "Mississippi" Category

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For Children New to Obamacare, Transportation May Be a Barrier

As more provisions of the Affordable Care Act take effect, children across America whose access to health care has been limited by lack of insurance stand to benefit. But transportation to medical appointments could be a major obstacle that will reduce the impact of Obamacare, according to a letter from children’s health experts printed this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association this month.

Four medical professionals from the Children’s Health Fund write:

Nationally, regardless of insurance status, 4 percent of children (approximately 3 million) missed a health care appointment each year because transportation was unavailable; this includes 9 percent of children in families with incomes less than $50,000. Thirty-one percent later used a hospital emergency department of the health condition associated with that missed appointment.

The authors say rural areas are most affected, and they take a close look at the issue in Mississippi. The team wrote that 66 percent of Mississippi’s counties were at high risk for transportation-related barriers to health care. Of those counties, 13 percent have no access to public transportation and another 87 percent had “limited access.”

But the authors also determine that even in these very rural areas, the distances to be overcome aren’t that overwhelming. Most population centers, they say, are within six miles of a clinic and even “outlying” population centers were generally within 14 miles. That led them to suggest that non-emergency medical transportation provided by hospitals might be warranted if it leads to better health outcomes and reduced emergency room visits. Previous research has found those types of transportation services to be cost effective.

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Cardin-Cochran Amendment Would Boost Local Control of Bike-Ped Funding

Image: America Bikes

We mentioned it briefly last week, but the amendment to the Senate transportation bill from Maryland Democrat Ben Cardin and Mississippi Republican Thad Cochran is a critical one to track. The amendment would give local governments, rather than state DOTs, access to most federal bike-ped funding.

The way the Senate transportation bill, MAP-21, is currently written, all funding for complete streets programs is funneled to state DOTs, and for many cities and towns this could mean losing access to funds that make streets safer.

The Cardin-Cochran Amendment would instead direct the funding to what are known as “Tier 1 Metropolitan Planning Organizations” — agencies that help decide how to spend federal transportation dollars in regions larger than 1 million people. In states that have no MPOs serving areas larger than 1 million residents, state DOTs would distribute the money directly to local communities through a grant process.

Cochran told Streetsblog the measure would protect local communities from missing out on important funds: “Our amendment would ensure that communities continue to have access to federal resources to implement transportation improvements that are meaningful to public safety, economic development and quality of life at the local level,” he said.

Meanwhile, Melody Moody of Bike Walk Mississippi has been running a local letter writing campaign to thank Senator Cochran for his support. More than most states, Mississippi, which suffers from the nation’s most acute obesity problem, needs to provide opportunities for active transportation.

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