Legislation to Aid Seniors and Improve Air Quality Heads to Governor
SACRAMENTO – Today, Assembly Bill (AB) 970, authored by Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), passed the Legislature with bipartisan support and heads to the Governor’s office for final consideration. AB 970 would establish a grant program to provide transportation to and from health care appointments for seniors and persons living with a disability by utilizing zero-emission and near-zero emission vehicles. The bill also requires the Department of Aging to hold a public workshop focused on addressing the transportation needs of seniors and those living with a disability.
“With California’s aging population, we need to take proactive steps to address the health needs of our seniors, particularly in rural areas like the Valley,” said Assemblymember Salas. “Older adults and people living with a disability often struggle getting to their medical appointments. AB 970 will help improve air quality and create a grant program that will provide transportation and help seniors and people living with a disability so they can safely travel to their health care appointments.”
In California, the older adult population will increase 64 percent by 2035 to 12 million adults age 60 and above. By that same time, the U.S. Census Bureau projects senior citizens will outnumber youth for the first time in our nation’s history. According to the California Department of Finance, the population over age 60 will have an overall increase of 166 percent during the period from 2010 to 2060. The projected increase in Kern County is 192 percent and 120 percent in Kings County.
“Statewide, non-emergency health care transport services are primarily available near urban and suburban areas,” said Anne Warren of the California Senior Legislature. “Getting old is inevitable. Being old and poor is a challenge. Being sick is a greater challenge. Being old, sick and living in remote or isolated areas can be a burden. But having transportation for accessing your medical needs lessens these challenges.”
AB 970 would create a grant program administered by the Department of Aging to provide clean transportation to non-emergency medical appointments with zero emission or near-zero emission vehicles for seniors and people living with disabilities. This bill would help increase access to care for vulnerable populations while also improving local air quality and reducing overall emissions, providing significant health benefits.
AB 970 passed the Legislature with bipartisan support and will head to the Governor’s office for final consideration.
Assemblymember Salas represents part of the City of Bakersfield, the cities of Arvin, Hanford, Corcoran, Delano, Lemoore, McFarland, Shafter, Wasco, and the communities of Armona, Avenal, Buttonwillow, Home Garden, Kettleman City, Lamont, Lost Hills, Stratford and Weedpatch.