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In this Feb. 2, 2016, file photo, Connect Mobility driver David Singletary prepares to transport a rider from Jewel-Osco on East Oakland Avenue to Lincoln Towers, both in Bloomington.

NORMAL — Connect Mobility riders covered by Medicaid no longer need to pay for medical-based trips.

Medicaid will pay 100 percent of the costs for a ride on the Bloomington-Normal bus system's on-demand service for a standard medical use through the Non-Emergency Medical Transport (NEMT) program, Connect Transit announced Monday.

In the last seven months, Connect Transit has provided almost 4,000 rides through NEMT, saving riders over $8,000, according to a news release.

Shelly Snider, the system's NEMT lead, said in the release the program "is a lifeline for disadvantaged Medicaid recipients, those who are elderly or disabled who have no access to essential healthcare services."

"There are over 3 million missed or delayed medical appointments a year due to lack of appropriate transportation. With an aging population, 78 percent of those over the age of 55 will have one or more chronic conditions," she said. "Receiving proper care for these conditions saves money by decreasing ambulance costs and emergency room visits.”

The system "does not currently accept Meridian, Molina, IlliniCare, or (Blue Cross Blue Shield) but are working to expand service to Medicare Advantage Plan and private sector insured customers," according to the release.

Residents must file an Americans with Disabilities Act paratransit application before using Connect Mobility. That's available at connect-transit.com/riding/connectmobility.asp.

For more information, call Connect Transit at 309-829-9833.

Contact Derek Beigh at (309) 820-3234. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_beigh

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