Skilled nursing providers in rural areas could fall behind without better access to broadband connectivity, providers testified before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. Members of the American Health Care Association urged committee members to pass the Rural Health Care Connectivity Act (S. 1916 / H.R. 4111), which would add certain skilled nursing centers to the list of providers eligible for rural telecommunications funding.
If passed, the legislation would allow rural not-for-profit and public SNFs to apply for assistance from the Universal Service Fund’s Rural Health Care Program, a grant program for building communications and technology infrastructures in rural areas.
More options for expanding the communications capabilities in rural skilled nursing centers, including affordable ways to move to broadband networks, is key, said Dan Holdhusen, director of government relations for the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, the country’s largest not-for-profit provider of senior care.
“Broadband networks are critical to accommodate the delivery and exchange of data, images, web streaming, and other health information that ensure the day-to-day care needs of residents and patients are met,” Holdhusen said. “Access to broadband connectivity at robust speeds and affordable prices is essential in the provision of the society’s wide range of services.”
Both the Senate and House versions of the bill are in committee.