The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics has ended a free transportation service provided to patients for 80 years. Since 1932, UI Hospitals has been transporting patients who qualify for state-paid health care to Iowa City.
But, with more Iowans qualifying for Medicaid and changes in the IowaCare program for those still unable to afford health care, hospital spokesman Tom Moore says fewer Iowans were riding in the vans to Iowa City. “Approximately 7.8 percent of the patients, at the end of the program, were using the transportation service — primarily because patients can now receive their primary care in their own medical home, so they can now go to clinics in their own communities,” Moore said.
The change impacts some 10,000 patients. But, ending the service will allow UI Hospitals to redirect the money spent on the transportation program toward patient care. “Over the course of the past year, the program cost approximately $1.1 million to transport patients,” Moore said. UI Hospitals also spent $3.8 million last year providing medication to IowaCare patients and Moore said continuing that service is a higher priority than offering the free transportation.
At one time, a fleet of more than 20 stretch limosine-style vehicles were iconic on Iowa interstates and highways, traveling millions of miles to transport thousands of patients under the state’s indigent care program to Iowa City.