Senate advances bill to improve Internet for rural SNFs

A bill that would improve telecommunications and broadband access for skilled nursing facilities in rural areas was approved last week by the Senate Commerce Committee.

The Rural Health Care Connectivity Act of 2015, introduced in August, would make SNFs eligible for broadband services funding through the Universal Service Fund's Rural Health Care Program. The program was designed to improve access to telemedicine and the exchange of electronic health records.

“We believe it is critical for rural skilled nursing facilities to continually expand and broaden access to robust Internet and telecommunications technologies,” said Dan Holdhusen, director of governmental affairs for The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, in a statement released by the American Health Care Association in August. “This access will enhance the quality of care and assist in the delivery of services in rural areas of the country.”

The Good Samaritan Society was specifically mentioned in the bill by Sen. John Thune (R-SD), who said the bill would allow providers like the Society to “develop new, innovative ways to reach out and offer supportive services directly in clients' homes.”