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Senators Tout Telehealth in Letter to Sec. Price

February 16, 2017
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Several U.S. senators have sent a letter with bipartisan support to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price regarding healthcare in rural America, and how health IT has helped navigate challenges.

U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, (R-Miss), Jon Tester, (D-Mont.), Chuck Grassley, (R-Iowa), and Heidi Heitkamp, (D-N.D.), were joined by 37 Senators in writing the letter which emphasizes the importance of rural healthcare providers and their critical role in rural communities. The letter to Sec. Price read, in part, “As you take on this new leadership role at HHS, we request that you work with us to ensure that the federal government does not act as an impediment to providing healthcare in rural communities. Overreaching and onerous regulations from Washington disproportionately harm rural America. We believe that together we can enact and implement effective policies that help providers innovate in care delivery and enable them to make efficient use of available resources.”

The letter continued, “We recognize that providers need to adapt to changes in the delivery of healthcare. We are encouraged by innovations we have seen in our states as providers test new care models and technologies like telehealth and remote patient monitoring. We know you will find bipartisan interest in supporting these types of innovations, and we look forward to working with you to improve our healthcare system. We recognize the importance of tackling this issue in a fiscally responsible way but believe investments in rural America yield substantial returns on investment.”

Wicker added himself, “Nearly 90 percent of our nation is rural, including many parts of Mississippi. Technology and innovation have allowed for better access to healthcare, but there are still vulnerable areas where quality, affordable care is lacking. I look forward to working with Secretary Price and the new Administration to ensure that rural America has a seat at the table as we move forward with improving the nation’s healthcare system.”

More than 80 rural hospitals have closed in recent years. Some estimates show another 700 rural hospitals are at risk of closure, according to a statement from Wicker’s office.

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