New fund will assist Islanders with off-Island medical trips

The ferry Island Home honked its way through the middle of the fleet, forcing a few quick tacks among the Vineyard Cup competitors. — Photo by Steve Myrick

A new initiative to assist Islanders with medical expenses, the Transportation Access Program (TAP), will help pay for off-Island travel to receive treatments not available on Martha’s Vineyard.

Rep. Timothy Madden announced the program, which is funded by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services. Funds for the program will be equally distributed between Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS) will administer the program, which will be used to help qualifying residents with up to $750 annually in travel expenses associated with medical appointments. “Representative Madden has been trying to get it going for a quite a while,” MVCS director of operations and community relations Nell Coogan said in a phone conversation with The Times.

Ms. Coogan said Representative Madden approached her with the idea and asked who could facilitate such a program on the Island.

“We right away said, ‘Well, we have a lot of clients who ask about this all the time, and we’d be happy to facilitate that,’” Ms. Coogan said.

Eligible travel includes appointments associated with long-term illness; health or mental health needs requiring services not available on the islands; chronic illness requiring regular off-island appointments; or acute health or mental health emergencies, according to a press release.

The program is intended to supplement costs when health insurance funds have been exhausted, or if available modes of transportation or assistance are not adequate. Ms. Coogan stressed that the program should be a last resort. People should first take advantage of other programs, such as the Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA) medivan program, which runs trips to Boston on Tuesdays for people who are 60 years old and/or disabled. However, if they can’t afford the $30 copay for that program or are unable to schedule doctor appointments in that window, MVCS will step in to assist.

“We are here to assist folks, but we do want them to try to use any other option out there. We’re not trying to supplant other funding, so if there is the ability to use the medivan, we can pay the copay, but we would rather they use that … We are looking for folks who have looked into all other options available to them,” Ms. Coogan said.

Extenuating circumstances will be considered on a case-by-case basis if $750 is not enough for a person in a given year.

TAP applications can be found online at or in hard copy in the administration building at MVCS.