Representative Johnson spearheads bipartisan effort for better telehealth access

“The Costs of Standing Up Telehealth Programs and the Insufficient Access to Broadband Internet in Many Parts of the Country are Hindering Providers and Patients from Realizing the Full Potential of These Expanded Flexibilities”
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Published: Jul. 21, 2020 at 5:04 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dakota News Now) - U.S. Representatives Dusty Johnson and Abigail Spanberger today led a 41-member, bipartisan effort calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to provide greater certainty and support to healthcare providers standing up telehealth services, which are playing an even more important role during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a letter sent to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, lawmakers described how high costs and insufficient broadband internet connectivity prevent many rural patients and providers from fully accessing the benefits of telehealth. The lawmakers called for more information to be made available to Congress regarding the COVID-19 telehealth program authorized by the CARES Act, expressing concerns that many eligible providers did not receive an award from the initial funding package.

“We write to request more information about the funding made available to providers through the COVID-19 telehealth program authorized by the CARES Act. More and more patients are seeking care from providers over telecommunications technology rather than in a brick and mortar office or clinic... We believe this shift has the potential to improve access to care for marginalized populations, reduce costs, and improve health outcomes by facilitating better monitoring of chronic health conditions.”

“Because of the CARES Act, hospitals around the country were able to apply for funding through the Federal Communications Commission to increase state access to telehealth services. This program permitted South Dakota hospitals to purchase telehealth equipment, ensuring our hospitals could meet the needs of patients virtually,” Johnson said. “If this program is working across the country like it is in South Dakota, we should reopen the application process to meet demand. I’m looking forward to hearing from the FCC on the viability of such an important effort to expand health care access to Americans.”

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