Hoeven: Rural Development, Telehealth Promote Better Access to Health Care Services

Senator Holds Roundtable Discussion with Rural Health Care Stakeholders, USDA Under Secretary

JAMESTOWN, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today held a roundtable discussion with health care providers and stakeholders at the Anne Carlsen Center in Jamestown. Joined by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small, the senator highlighted the work of the Anne Carlsen Center and the role Rural Development can play in promoting better access to health care services in rural communities. Hoeven outlined his efforts to support the construction of the new Anne Carlsen Center facility, scheduled to begin in July, to continue providing quality care to individuals in the region with intellectual and developmental disabilities. As ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee, the senator worked to ensure the center is able to continue providing critical services to the area and sent a letter to USDA RD in support of the center’s loan application for constructing a new facility. 

“Access to high quality health care should never be dependent on a person’s zip code,” said Hoeven. “Today’s discussion is about working together to strengthen rural communities through improved access to necessary resources, including health care. The Anne Carlsen Center’s new facility will strengthen the resources, education and health care available to children with special needs and their families for years to come, and we appreciate the opportunity to discuss this with Under Secretary Torres Small.”

In addition, Hoeven is working to advance innovative solutions, like telehealth, to help improve health care access in rural areas. To this end, the senator helped introduce the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act of 2021. This legislation will further expand coverage of telehealth services through Medicare, make permanent certain telehealth flexibilities that were put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic and allow patients to more easily connect with their doctors by:

  • Permanently removing all geographic restrictions on telehealth services and expanding originating sites to include the home and other sites.
  • Allowing community health centers and rural health clinics to provide telehealth services.
  • Providing the Secretary of Health and Human Services with the authority to waive telehealth restrictions.