Net gain for rural operators

Skilled nursing facilities would become eligible for broadband services funding under a proposed Senate bill.

Sen. John Thune (R-SD) introduced S. 1916 in August in order for nursing homes to apply for support through the Universal Service Fund's Rural Health Care Program, which provides telecommunications and broadband services for rural providers. 

The Federal Communications Commission expanded the RHCP to include the $400 million Healthcare Connect Fund in 2012. It originally allocated $50 million over three years starting in 2014 for a skilled nursing pilot program, but later halted those plans.

The fund was designed to provide patients with telemedicine access and to support the exchange of electronic health records, plus increase broadband services. 

 “This common-sense bill would support and improve the healthcare 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,” Thune said, specifically mentioning Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society as a provider that would benefit. 

“The legislation would help healthcare providers such as the Society develop new, innovative ways to reach out and offer supportive services directly in clients' homes,” Thune added.

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