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Gwinnett mother does it all with assistance from Medicaid transportation program

Ramatu and her four children smile and pose together for a picture.

Ramatu lives in Gwinnett County with her four children for whom Medicaid helps to meet their unique health needs. Medicaid provides a lifeline for Ramatu’s family and helps ensure that her children receive the health care they need. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 54% of Georgia children with special health care needs are covered by Medicaid. 

“Two of my kids are on straight Medicaid because of the severity of their disability. The other two, they are on what is called care services.”  –Ramatu

Ramatu’s oldest daughter, Khadija, suffered a stroke on the day she was born which left her with neurological issues, visual impairment, and hearing loss. She now faces daily challenges with autism, cerebral palsy, and a seizure disorder. She requires full-time assistance with her schoolwork, therapy, and her everyday needs like eating and going to the bathroom. 

The family relies on Medicaid’s transportation benefit (called non-emergency medical transportation or NEMT) to ensure Khadija is able to go to her many medical appointments. Khadija is unable to ride alone without a personal care assistant but the Medicaid transportation service does not offer individualized transportation plans which could potentially remove barriers to utilizing the service. Khadija qualifies for home skills nursing care and personal support through the Georgia Pediatric Program (GAPP), a Medicaid service.

Ramatu been the sole caregiver for Khadija while dealing with her own health challenges, working part-time, pursuing a master’s degree in public health, and tending to her three other children (ages 10, 7, and 3).

Much like Ramatu and her children, Georgians around the state are able to see health providers because Medicaid provides free transportation services if they do not have another way to get to their appointments. For almost 400,000 Georgians each year, the service works well. However, there are times when it falls short of its promise. Patients and families are picked up late going to or from an appointment. In the worst cases, they are never picked up at all. Parents like Ramatu who need to take one child to see the doctor are blocked from bringing their sibling, forcing them to find alternative and expensive childcare.

The people for whom Medicaid’s transportation program breaks down are often those who need it the most: patients with complex care needs. These riders are children and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities, seniors who would otherwise have to live in nursing homes, and people with multiple chronic conditions. Almost four million Medicaid’s rides are provided to Medicaid-covered Georgians each year. When these rides fall short for these riders, the consequences can be serious, so it is imperative the system works well all of the time.  

In order to improve Medicaid’s transportation services (so that it works all of the time, every time!), we need to hear from the people who use it. You can help! Fill out this rider survey, if you use transportation services to get to health appointments. If you are a caregiver or otherwise help people arrange for NEMT rides, we want to hear from you too. You will be entered into a weekly drawing for a $25 gift card when you complete the survey!

If you do not fit into one of those categories, share the survey with someone who does. Ask your patients, your social media network, and others to fill out the survey if they have used Medicaid’s transportation services. The survey is available at this link: http://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GDS4HealthCare.

Have a story about transportation and health that you want to share? Tell us about it! We’ll get in touch with you soon to learn more.


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