Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Bill To Help Improve Access, Availability of Rural Health Care Introduced in the House

Dana Halvorson 

On November 18, the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee considered and passed by voice vote S. 1916, the Rural Health Care Connectivity Act of 2015. The Rural Health Care Co​nnectivity Act of 2015 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 FCC interpretation, skilled nursing facilities are currently not eligible to receive these funds. The Rural Health Care Connectivity Act of 2015 would help AHCA members provide enhanced care and services for patients and residents in rural areas throughout the country.​ An AHCA press release on this legislation from earlier this year can be found here.

On November 19, Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ-7), Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND-At Large) and Rep. David Loebsack (D-IA-2) introduced companion legislation, the Rural Health Care Connectivity Act of 2015 (H.R. 4111), in the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. AHCA will keep its members apprised of any updates relating to this important Senate and House legislation.    

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