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Obama Signs Loebsack’s ‘Rural Health Care Connectivity Act’ into Law

Legislation helps rural healthcare providers access broadband services

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Washington, June 24, 2016 | Joe Hand (202-225-6576) | comments
Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement today after legislation he helped introduce, the Rural Health Care Connectivity Act, was signed into law this week by President Obama. 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.

“Access to robust broadband internet in skilled nursing facilities, no matter where they are located, is necessary for both the folks who live there, and for the doctors to more effectively treat patients. After having visited many high skilled nursing facilities across the district, I’ve gotten a first-hand look at the innovative care that is being offered. I thank the President for signing this bipartisan legislation into law. It will ensure that our rural communities have access to the same resources that are available to other communities, and can take advantage of 21st Century technologies to serve Iowa patients.”

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.
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