Loebsack’s ‘Rural Health Care Connectivity Act’ Passes the House

Written by Theresa Rose on May 25, 2016

 

Legislation helps rural healthcare providers access broadband services

 

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement today after legislation he helped introduce, the Rural Health Care Connectivity Act, passed the House of Representatives. The bipartisan legislation was included as part of a larger bill, H.R. 2576, the TSCA Modernization Act. Specifically, Loebsack’s bill makes skilled nursing facilities eligible to receive funds through the Universal Service Fund’s Rural Healthcare Program. This is a $400 million program that provides discounts for telecommunications services so that rural healthcare providers pay comparable rates to their urban counterparts, and helps expand healthcare provider access to broadband services.

 

“Over the past few weeks, I traveled across my district to visit skilled nursing facilities and have seen first-hand the innovative care that they are offering. The one thing I heard over and over is that in order to take advantage of 21st Century healthcare advancements like tele-health, electronic medical records, and more, these facilities need more robust broadband,” said Loebsack. “This legislation will help ensure that broadband is both accessible and affordable for these important healthcare providers by giving them access to the same resources that other rural healthcare providers already have. I am proud that this legislation received bicameral and bipartisan support, and that it was included in this important legislation. Our rural communities deserve the same access to resources available to other communities, and this legislation is an important step.”

 

Background on the Rural Health Care Connectivity Act

 

Skilled nursing facilities are an integral part of the healthcare system, particularly in rural areas. Access to broadband at reasonable rates helps them give high quality care to their patients. Many skilled nursing facilities are increasingly dependent on access to broadband, especially if they have little access to hospitals nearby. While many other rural healthcare providers have access to Rural Health Care Program funds, skilled nursing facilities do not. Allowing these facilitates to participate in the Rural Health Care program will help these facilities develop new and innovative technologies and practices, such as tele-health and telemedicine.