CHIME asks FCC to double rural telehealth program's annual funding cap

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives penned a letter Feb. 2 to the Federal Communications Commission, urging the agency to double its annual funding for rural telehealth.

CHIME wrote the letter in response to a proposed rule the FCC issued Jan. 3 to revamp its Rural Health Care Program, which provides eligible healthcare providers with funding for broadband services that enhance high-quality care. Under the proposed rule, the FCC would consider an increase in the program's annual funding cap, which has remained stagnant at $400 million since the program's inception in 1997.

In the letter, CHIME recommended the FCC double the funding cap for the Rural Health Care Program to $800 million per year. The organization also suggested the FCC collaborate with HHS agencies like the CDC, CMS and ONC on how to "best utilize these funds and direct them to the greatest areas of need, including areas decimated by the opioid crisis."

"As technology and telemedicine assume an increasingly critical role in healthcare delivery, a well-designed RHC Program is more vital than ever," the letter reads. "By improving underserved healthcare provider access to modern communications services, the RHC Program can help in overcoming some of the obstacles to healthcare delivery faced in isolated communities."

To access CHIME's letter, click here.

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