Rural Home Health Agencies Need Affordable Internet Access

Legislation | August 28, 2016 | by Peter Notarstefano

Rural home health agencies need the same kind of discounted broadband internet connectivity rural nursing homes obtained through the Rural Health Care Connectivity Act.

The Rural Health Care Connectivity Act of 2015 allows skilled nursing facilities to receive support from the Universal Service Fund’s Rural Health Care Program (RHCP). The RHCP funds telecommunications and broadband services used to provide health care in rural communities. Nursing homes were recently included in the list of providers eligible to receive support from RHCP.

LeadingAge and the Center for Aging Services Technology supported and advocated for this legislation because internet connectivity is required for a wide array of technology-enabled services in rural and urban areas alike. With connectivity, skilled nursing settings are able to implement such services as telehealth, medication management, remote monitoring, health information exchange, care coordination and social connectedness.  However, this bill left out rural home health agencies.

Related Statute/Regulation:

Communications Act of 1934 and the Rural Health Care Connectivity Act, P.L. 114-183.

Proposed Solution:

LeadingAge recommends that rural home health agencies receive support from the Universal Service Fund’s Rural Health Care Program (RHCP), as their peer healthcare providers.