Wednesday, August 12, 2015

AHCA Supports Bill that Would Improve Access and Availability of Rural Health Care

Sen. Thune
Dana Halvorson 

Last week, Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) introduced the Rural Health Care Connectivity Act of 2015 (S. 1916) that would amend the Communications Act to permit skilled nursing facilities to apply for support from the Universal Service Fund’s Rural Health Care Program (RHCP). The RHCP provides funding for telecommunications and broadband services used to provide health care in rural areas and communities. S. 1916 specifies that skilled nursing facilities be included in the definition of health care providers that are eligible to receive RHCP support. By Federal Communications Commission (FCC) interpretation, skilled nursing facilities are currently not eligible to receive these funds.

Regarding S. 1916, AHCA member Dan Holdhusen, Director of Governmental Affairs of The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society (Good Samaritan Society), noted, “We believe it is critical for rural skilled nursing facilities to continually expand and broaden access to robust Internet and telecommunications technologies. This access will enhance the quality of care and assist in the delivery of services in rural areas of the country. We further believe that the Telecommunication Act that formulated rules regarding use of Universal Service Funds made it clear that SNFs should be eligible to access these funds to advance broadband use and expansion in a manner similar to acute health care providers. We’re extremely grateful for Senator Thune’s relentless pursuit of this same goal, and we applaud his leadership to help support this position.”

The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society is headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and currently operates hundreds of skilled nursing facilities nationwide, many of which are in rural communities. Through Internet-based connections to its national headquarters and other strategic locations, the Good Samaritan Society enables rural patients and residents to remotely connect with hospitals, physicians and other health care providers. The Rural Health Care Connectivity Act of 2015 would help AHCA members such as the Good Samaritan Society provide enhanced care and services for patients and residents in rural areas throughout the country. For this reason, AHCA endorses this important legislation. 

No comments:

Post a Comment