LOUISVILLE, Ky. and TAMPA, Fla., April 14, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Transportation is a significant barrier to accessing primary and preventive care services, and treatment for acute and chronic health conditions for many low-income Americans living in rural areas. WellCare of Kentucky, a subsidiary of WellCare Health Plans, Inc. (NYSE: WCG), is working to reduce this barrier to care in Muhlenberg County.
WellCare's HealthConnections Council, formed in 2011 to support the social safety net through a collaboration with local social service agencies and community leaders, launched the Muhlenberg County Health Coalition to address health issues impacting the rural community, where approximately 25 percent of residents live in poverty.
The coalition determined medical transportation was one of the biggest barriers to health care in Muhlenberg County. With a $2,000 investment from WellCare, a transportation voucher system was created to subsidize the cost of transportation to medical appointments, hospitals, pharmacies, and dental and vision services.
WellCare partnered with Pennyrile Allied Community Service (PACS), a nonprofit community action agency that offers the county's only public transportation, to oversee the voucher program.
"This is an important health initiative because 'no transportation' is a frequently cited problem for residents of rural communities when they miss medical appointments," said Dr. Howard Shaps, medical director for WellCare of Kentucky. "Greater access to health care has been related to better health status, more frequent use of preventative services, and lower hospitalization rates."
Through the efforts of WellCare's HealthConnections Council and the community organizations involved in the coalition, additional grant funding is being pursued to maintain the voucher program indefinitely. In addition, the coalition is exploring a partnership with Goodwill Industries of Kentucky's Goodwill Cars to Work® program as another avenue to improve transportation for eligible county residents.
As of Dec. 31, 2015, WellCare serves approximately 440,000 Medicaid members, 8,000 Medicare Advantage plan members and 22,000 Medicare Prescription Drug Plan members in Kentucky. To learn more about how we care for Kentuckians, watch Brandi's story at http://youtu.be/YwOw5EgeSYo.
About WellCare Health Plans, Inc.
Headquartered in Tampa, Fla., WellCare Health Plans, Inc. (NYSE: WCG) focuses exclusively on providing government-sponsored managed care services, primarily through Medicaid, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans, to families, children, seniors and individuals with complex medical needs. WellCare serves approximately 3.8 million members nationwide as of Dec. 31, 2015. For more information about WellCare, please visit the company's website at www.wellcare.com or view the company's videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/WellCareHealthPlan.
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SOURCE WellCare Health Plans, Inc.