The Senate this week approved legislation allowing public and nonprofit skilled nursing facilities to apply for support from the Universal Service Fund’s Rural Health Care Program, which provides funding for telecommunications and broadband services used to provide health care in rural communities. The Rural Health Care Connectivity Act was included in the Toxic Substances Control Act conference report and now goes to the president for his signature. When the Federal Communications Commission updated the RHCP and created the Healthcare Connect Fund in 2012, it proposed implementing a pilot program to examine funding SNFs. The agency later deferred implementation of the pilot program, claiming it needed additional statutory authority to allow SNFs to be eligible. In comments submitted to FCC in January, AHA urged the agency to enhance participation and access to broadband for rural health care services.

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