Rural Health Care Connectivity Legislation Could Save $18M Over a Decade, CBO Report Says | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

Rural Health Care Connectivity Legislation Could Save $18M Over a Decade, CBO Report Says

March 25, 2016
by Heather Landi
| Reprints
Click To View Gallery

A bill, S. 1916, that would enable rural nursing facilities to tap into funding from the government’s Universal Service Fund for telecommunications and broadband services could save $18 million over a nine-year period, according to a Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate report.

U.S. Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, introduced the Rural Health Care Connectivity Act of 2015 last year to amend the Communications Act of 1934 to permit skilled nursing facilities (SNF) to be eligible to apply for support from the Universal Service Fund’s (USF) Rural Health Care Program (RHCP). The USF’s RHCP provides funding for telecommunications and broadband services used to promote health care in rural communities. If passed, the bill could help provide better care in rural areas by enabling health IT tools like telemedicine.

As previously reported in Healthcare Informatics, S. 1916 passed the Senate Committee on Commerce last November. At that time, the committee ordered the CBO to provide a cost estimate.

And the report stated that “CBO estimates that an average of 1,650 public and nonprofit SNFs in rural areas would be eligible for grants during that period and that participation rates and grant awards would be similar to those for existing RHC programs. Based on information from the FCC, CBO estimates that participation rates would reach 75 percent over a period of several years and that certain non-rural entities affiliated with those participants also would receive funding.”

“CBO estimates that enacting S. 1916 would increase direct spending by $197 million over the 2017-2026 period and result in increased revenue collections of $215 million over the same period, resulting in an estimated net reduction in the deficit of $18 million, the report stated.

In a statement about the bill, Sen. Thune said the bill would “support and improve the health care services that skilled nursing facilities can provide to our rural communities by allowing them access to much-needed funds that are currently out of reach.”

The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society (Good Sam), headquartered in Sioux Falls, S.D., currently operates hundreds of SNFs nationwide, most of which are in rural communities.

“Through Internet-based connections to its national headquarters, Good Sam allows rural patients to remotely connect with hospitals and physicians. The Rural Health Care Connectivity Act of 2015 would help organizations like Good Sam provide better quality care for rural areas throughout the country,” Thune stated.

 

Get the latest information on Health IT and attend other valuable sessions at this two-day Summit providing healthcare leaders with educational content, insightful debate and dialogue on the future of healthcare and technology.

Learn More

Topics

News

Survey: Infrastructure, Interoperability Key Barriers to Global HIT Development

A new survey report from Black Book Research on global healthcare IT adoption and records systems connectivity finds nations in various phases of regional electronic health record (EHR) adoption. The survey results also reveal rapidly advancing opportunities for U.S.-based and local technology vendors.

Penn Medicine Opens Up Telehealth Hub

Philadelphia-based Penn Medicine has opened its Center for Connected Care to centralize the health system’s telemedicine activities.

Roche to Pay $1.9B for Flatiron Health

Switzerland-based pharmaceutical company Roche has agreed to pay $1.9 billion to buy New York-based Flatiron Health Inc., which has both an oncology EHR and data analytics platform.

Financial Exec Survey: Interoperability Key Obstacle to Value-Based Payment Models

Momentum continues to grow for value-based care as nearly three-quarters of healthcare executives report their organizations have achieved positive financial results from value-based payment programs, to date, according to a new study from the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA).

Cerner, Children's National to Help UAE Pediatric Center with Health IT

Al Jalila Children's Specialty Hospital, the only pediatric hospital in the United Arab Emirates, has entered into an agreement with Washington, D.C.-based Children's National Health System to form a health IT strategic partnership.

Telemedicine Association Names New CEO

The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) has named Ann Mond Johnson its new CEO, replacing Jon Linkous who stepped down suddenly last August after 24 years as the organization’s CEO.