Washington, D.C. — The following statement was issued
today by American Health Care Association (AHCA) member Dan Holdhusen, Director
of Governmental Affairs of The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society
(Good Samaritan Society), regarding S. 1916, the Rural Health Care Connectivity Act of 2015.
“We believe it is critical for rural skilled nursing
facilities (SNFs) to continually expand and broaden access to robust Internet
and telecommunications technologies. This access will enhance the quality of
care and assist in the delivery of services in rural areas of the country. We further believe that the
Telecommunication Act that formulated rules regarding use of Universal Service
Funds made it clear that SNFs should be eligible to access these funds to
advance broadband use and expansion in a manner similar to acute health care providers.
We’re extremely grateful for Senator Thune’s relentless pursuit of this same
goal, and we applaud his leadership to help support this position.”
About S. 1916
The Rural Health Care
Connectivity Act of 2015 would amend the Communications Act to permit
skilled nursing facilities to apply for support from the Universal Service Fund’s
Rural Health Care Program (RHCP). The RHCP provides funding for
telecommunications and broadband services used to provide health care in rural
areas and communities. S. 1916 specifies that skilled nursing facilities be
included in the definition of health care providers that are eligible to
receive RHCP support. By FCC interpretation, skilled nursing facilities are
currently not eligible to receive these funds.
The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society is headquartered
in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and currently operates hundreds of skilled
nursing facilities nationwide, many of which are in rural communities. Through
Internet-based connections to its national headquarters and other strategic
locations, the Good Samaritan Society enables rural patients and residents to
remotely connect with hospitals, physicians and other health care providers.
The Rural Health Care Connectivity Act of
2015 would help AHCA members such as the Good Samaritan Society provide enhanced
care and services for patients and residents in rural areas throughout the