Wednesday, January 20, 2016

AHCA Encourages Passage of Rural Health Care Access Bill

Dana Halvorson 

AHCA released a press statement yesterday in full support of the Rural Health Care Connectivity Act of 2015 (S. 1916/ H.R. 4111.)  This legislation would amend the Communications Act to permit skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) 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 SNFs be included in the definition of health care providers that are eligible to receive RHCP support. By Federal Communications Commission (FCC) interpretation, SNFs are currently not eligible to receive these funds as, we believe, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 intended. S. 1916 passed unanimously by the Senate Commerce Committee on November 18, 2015.

AHCA’s Senior Vice President of Government Relations, Clifton J. Porter II, stated, “Providers depend on the growing use of technology to deliver needed care and services to rural locations. Broadband networks are critical to accommodate the delivery and exchange of data, images, web streaming, and other health information that ensures the day-to-day care needs of residents and patients are met. Skilled nursing facilities will greatly benefit from access to enhanced telecommunications technologies. The American Health Care Association strongly supports this bill and urges swift passage of it by Congress.”

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