REPS. ESHOO AND YOUNG INTRODUCE BIPARTISAN BILL TO EXPAND TELEHEALTH DURING CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
Washington, D.C. – Today, House Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) and Representative Don Young (R-AK) introduced H.R. 6474, the Healthcare Broadband Expansion During COVID-19 Act, a bipartisan bill to provide $2 billion to expand telehealth and high-quality internet connectivity at public and nonprofit healthcare facilities, including mobile clinics and temporary health facilities deployed to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The coronavirus has only increased the need for high-quality and reliable internet connectivity as healthcare is increasingly delivered through telehealth and healthcare professionals depend on broadband for every aspect of their operations” said Rep. Eshoo. “The Healthcare Broadband Expansion During COVID-19 Act ensures healthcare providers around the country can afford internet connectivity as they respond to the worst pandemic of our lifetimes.”
“Access to dependable, patient-centered healthcare is essential to the well-being of Alaskans, and is especially vital in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Rep. Young. “As technology has advanced, so too has the delivery of healthcare. Telehealth is a proven healthcare delivery method, but requires access to reliable broadband connectivity. The Healthcare Broadband Expansion During COVID-19 Act takes crucially needed steps to ensure that healthcare providers in Alaska and across the country have the internet access they need to keep our communities safe.”
Today, healthcare providers pay an average of over $40,000 per year for broadband connectivity. The FCC’s Healthcare Connect Fund Program (HCFP) subsidizes 65 percent of the cost of broadband for eligible public and nonprofit rural healthcare facilities. H.R. 6474 expands the program to include rural, urban, and suburban healthcare facilities, including mobile and temporary facilities established to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and increases the subsidy rate to 85 percent. The bill also streamlines administrative requirements to ensure healthcare providers receive funding as quickly as possible.
On March 21st Rep. Eshoo sent a letter urging the FCC to expand its Rural Health Care Program, which HCFP is part of, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
A coalition of 48 healthcare organizations endorsed H.R. 6474. In addition to healthcare organizations, H.R. 6474 is broadly supported public interest groups; associations of local governments; and telecommunications companies and associations. Supporters include:
- Stanford Health Care
- California Telehealth Network
- Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition
- American Health Care Association
- Association of Clinicians for the Underserved
- Healthcare Leadership Council
- Rural Health IT Corporation
- College of Healthcare Information Management Executives
- National League of Cities
- National Association of Counties
- ACA Connects—America's Communications Association
- USTelecom – The Broadband Association
- NCTA — The Internet & Television Association
- The Fiber Broadband Association