Bipartisan bill introduced to help veterans living in rural areas receive transportation to VA-authorized healthcare facilities

Feb. 14, 2024
The Rural Veterans Transportation to Care Act would expand eligibility to the VA’s Highly Rural Transportation Grant Program.

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Jon Ossoff (D-GA) and John Thune (R-SD) introduced the Rural Veterans Transportation to Care Act, a bipartisan bill that would help veterans living in rural areas get transportation to Veterans Affairs (VA) and VA-authorized healthcare facilities to access the benefits they’ve earned through their service. 

"In Maine – a large, rural state with one of the highest number of veterans per capita – only veterans living in Piscataquis County are eligible for this important grant program that provides transportation to VA and VA-authorized healthcare facilities,” said Sen. Collins.  “By expanding program eligibility to include more highly rural areas, this bipartisan bill would allow veterans in additional Maine counties to gain access to these transportation services.” 

“As I’ve sat down with veterans in rural areas across Georgia, one of their key concerns is lack of transportation,” said Sen. Ossoff. “That’s why I’m introducing this bipartisan bill to ensure veterans have more access to transportation services that can bring them to VA clinics and medical centers to get the care they need.” 

“Traveling to and from VA facilities is oftentimes an overlooked obstacle that veterans in rural communities, like those in South Dakota, face,” said Sen. Thune. “This legislation would provide South Dakota veterans with much-needed transportation services that would allow them to safely and efficiently utilize services at VA facilities.” 

The legislation would expand eligibility to the VA’s Highly Rural Transportation Grant Program (HRTG), which provides grant funding to Veteran Service Organizations and State Veterans Service Agencies to provide transportation in eligible counties. The HRTG Program is currently only available to counties with fewer than seven people per square mile – and in Maine, that limits the program to only Piscataquis County. The bill would expand the VA’s definition of rural areas to ensure more counties are eligible for the grant program. The bill would also increase the maximum amount grant recipients are eligible for from $50,000 to $60,000, or up to $80,000 for grantees to purchase an ADA compliant vehicle. 

The bipartisan bill is backed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion and Disabled American Veterans. 

According to the VA, more than six in 10 veterans in Maine reside in rural areas and roughly three in 10 veterans in Georgia live in rural areas. The VA states there are roughly 2.8 million veterans in rural areas across the U.S. who are enrolled in and rely on the VA’s health care system. 

The complete text of the bipartisan Rural Veterans Transportation to Care Act can be read here

About the Author

Brandon Lewis | Associate Editor

Brandon Lewis is a recent graduate of Kent State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lewis is a former freelance editorial assistant at Vehicle Service in Endeavor Business Media’s Vehicle Repair Group. Lewis brings his knowledge of web managing, copyediting and SEO practices to Mass Transit Magazine as an associate editor.