AHA today voiced support for legislation that would provide an additional $2 billion for hospitals and other health care providers to expand broadband and telehealth services during the COVID-19 crisis through the Federal Communication Commission Rural Health Care Program.

The Health Care Broadband Expansion During COVID-19 Act would increase the program’s provider subsidy from 65% to 85% and streamline the application process and disbursement of funding.

While some in-person services always will be needed, improved access to telehealth will ensure that only those patients who absolutely require in-person visits leave their homes for medical care,” AHA said in letters to the bill’s House and Senate sponsors. “Doing so will help hospitals and health systems care for more patients and reduce potential exposure to COVID-19 positive patients for health care professionals and the public.”

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