Hoeven: Congress Passes Bill to Improve Access and Availability of Rural Health Care

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives have now passed the Rural Health Care Connectivity Act, legislation he cosponsored with Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), to improve access and availability of rural health care. The bill makes skilled nursing facilities eligible for telecommunications and broadband funding to improve health care services, including telemedicine, in rural communities.

“This legislation is all about providing greater access to health care services in our rural communities,” said Hoeven. “Many citizens in rural areas rely on skilled nursing facilities for their health care. This legislation will enable these facilities to improve care and provide better access to telemedicine services, which remotely connect patients in rural areas with hospitals and physicians.”

Specifically, the legislation amends the Communications Act to allow skilled nursing facilities to apply for support though the Universal Service Fund’s Rural Health Care Program (RHCP), which provides funding for telecommunications and broadband services used to provide health care in rural communities. The legislation was included in the conference report for the Toxic Substances Control Act, which was approved last night by the Senate and will now be sent to the President to be signed into law.