FCC Under Pressure to Boost Broadband Support for Rural Telemedicine

Feb 09, 2018

February 07, 2018

One of healthcare’s heavy hitters is lobbying the Federal Communications Commission to support primary care telemedicine in rural America by boosting resources for broadband expansion.

Arguing that improved broadband access will boost telehealth programs in remote communities and for underserved populations, the American Association of Family Physicians (AAFP) is urging the FCC to make several changes to the Rural Health Care (RHC) program, including increasing the budget from its capped $400 million limit and allocating future funding based on the economic needs of the rural population served by a particular practice.

“Telehealth technologies can enhance patient-physician collaborations, increase access to care, improve health outcomes by enabling timely care interventions, and decrease costs when utilized as a component of, and coordinated with, longitudinal care,” AAFB Board Chairman John Meigs, Jr., MD, wrote in a letter to FCC Secretary Marlene H. Dortch. “Responsible care coordination is necessary to ensure patient safety and continuity of care for the immediate condition being treated, and it is necessary for effective longitudinal care.”

The letter comes in response to a proposed rule published on January 3 in the Federal Register that lays out a wide range of changes planned by the FCC, including raising the RHC budget cap, which has remained at $400 million since the program was launched in 1997.

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