Friday, June 15, 2018

FCC chair calls for increase in rural telemedicine fund

Federal Communications Chairman Ajit Pai is asking his colleagues to boost funding for a program that funds telemedicine efforts in rural America. In a recent memo, he urged an increase in funding from $400 million to $571 million for the Universal Service Fund's Rural Health Care Program.

Funding has been capped at $400 million since 1997, but that was never raised to account for inflation. "Yet the demand for funding has outpaced the budget and the situation is creating uncertainty for patients, healthcare providers, communications companies and telemedicine providers and patients,"Bernie Monegain reports for Healthcare IT News.

Pai's proposal would adjust the cap annually for inflation and allow unused funds from previous years to be carried forward to future years. That could bring more certainty for rural health care providers, who increasingly rely on telemedicine to treat patients.

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