Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Rural Health Care Access Legislation Passes Congress, On Way to Being Signed into Law

Dana Halvorson 
AHCA is in full support of the Rural Health Care Connectivity Act of 2015 (S. 1916/ H.R. 4111). This legislation had proposed to amend the 1996 Telecommunications Act to permit eligible not for profit and public skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) in rural areas to apply for support from the Universal Service Fund’s Rural Health Care Program (RHCP). The RHCP provides funding for eligible health care providers to expand and mitigate the high cost of broadband to facilitate and deliver health care services in rural areas and communities.

S. 1916/H.R. 4111 simply specify 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 were not eligible to receive these funds as, we believe, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 intended. The Rural Health Care Connectivity Act of 2015, which was included in the Toxic Substances Control Act conference report, passed in the full Senate last evening.

The conference report now heads to the president, who is expected to sign it into law. AHCA applauds the Congressional leaders in both chambers who made this passage possible. 

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