2 House members propose extra $2B to expand telehealth, broadband for healthcare facilities

Two lawmakers introduced a bill April 10 that would provide $2 billion to expand telehealth and internet connectivity at public and nonprofit healthcare facilities.

House Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., and Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, introduced the legislation, dubbed the Healthcare Broadband Expansion During COVID-19 Act. The bill would expand the FCC's existing Healthcare Connect Fund Program, which subsidizes 65 percent of the cost of broadband for eligible public and nonprofit rural healthcare facilities.

Stanford (Calif.) Health Care, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives and American Health Care Association are just a few of the more than 50 healthcare organizations that pledged support of the bill, according to a news release.

Providers on average currently pay more than $40,000 per year for broadband connectivity, according to the news release.

The proposed legislation would apply $2 billion to extend the program to include rural, urban and suburban healthcare facilities, including mobile and temporary facilities developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill would increase the program subsidy rate to 85 percent and streamline administrative requirements, so providers could receive funding as soon as possible.

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