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

Geisinger, AstraZeneca Partner on Asthma App Suite

Geisinger has partnered with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to create a suite of products that integrate into the electronic health record and engage asthma patients and their providers in co-managing the disease.

Analysis: Healthcare Ransomware Attacks Decline in First Half of 2018

In the first half of 2018, ransomware events in major healthcare data breaches diminished substantially compared to the same time period last year, as cyber attackers move on to more profitable activities, such as cryptojacking, according to a new report form cybersecurity firm Cryptonite.

Dignity Health, UCSF Health Partner to Improve the Digital Patient Experience

Dignity Health and UCSF Health are collaborating to develop a digital engagement platform that officials believe will provide information and access to patients when and where they need it as they navigate primary and preventive care, as well as more acute or specialty care.

Report: Digital Health VC Funding Surges to Record $4.9 Billion in 2018

Global venture capital funding for digital health companies in the first half of 2018 was 22 percent higher year-over-year (YoY) with a record $4.9 billion raised in 383 deals compared to the $4 billion in 359 deals in the same time period last year, according to Mercom Capital Group’s latest report.

ONC Roundup: Senior Leadership Changes Spark Questions

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has continued to experience changes within its upper leadership, leading some folks to again ponder what the health IT agency’s role will be moving forward.

Media Report: Walmart Hires Former Humana Executive to Run Health Unit

Reigniting speculation that Walmart and insurer Humana are exploring ways to forge a closer partnership, Walmart Inc. has hired a Humana veteran to run its health care business, according to a report from Bloomberg.