Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Rural Health Care Access Legislation Approved out of Full House Committee

Dana Halvorson


Last week, the full House Energy and Commerce Committee approved Rural Health Care Connectivity Act of 2015 (S. 1916/ H.R. 4111).   AHCA is in full support of this legislation that would amend the Communications Act to permit eligible not for profit and public 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/H.R. 4111 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.

Last month, Dan Holdhusen, Director of Government Relations at the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society and AHCA member, testified in front of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology during a hearing in support of the Rural Health Care Connectivity Act of 2015. Dan encouraged swift passage of this important legislation. On April 19, the Subcommittee cleared and passed H.R. 4111.

Next steps include full Senate and House consideration. AHCA will keep its membership apprised on further updates relating to this legislation.

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