Last week, central Washington Republican Dan Newhouse announced that the USDA has awarded grant funding for telemedicine and distance learning to Yakima County, Yakama Reservation, Adams County, and for teledentistry across Central Washington. The $1,990,193 in grant funding will increase access to education, training and health care resources that are otherwise limited or unavailable for rural communities in Central Washington. Funds for these grants is provided from FY21 appropriations, which Republicans approved in December of 2020.
“Telemedicine is a vital way to reach patients in outlying and underserved areas, particularly in rural communities across Central Washington,” Newhouse noted. “Supporting the expansion of telemedicine and remote patient monitoring will empower our healthcare providers to ensure that no patient is left behind. These grants will give our rural hospitals, clinics, and community health centers in Central Washington and beyond the tools they need to increase access to quality, effective healthcare.”
Newhouse said has taken a number of actions to increase access to rural broadband as well as telemedicine for central Washingtonians:
- In June 2020, Rep. Newhouse introduced the Increasing Rural Health Access During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Act, a bill that aims to increase telehealth access for rural communities and facilitate the use of remote patient monitoring technology during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- In February 2021, Rep. Newhouse introduced the Rural Maternal and Obstetric Modernization of Services Act (Rural MOMS Act). The bill aims to improve healthcare access and outcomes for new and expecting mothers in rural communities across the United States by addressing rural maternal mortality and morbidity rates and expanding access to healthcare services for pregnant women and new mothers in remote areas.
- In June 2021, Rep. Newhouse introduced the Rural Remote Monitoring Patient Act. This legislation would create a pilot grant program within the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to facilitate the use of remote patient monitoring technology in rural areas. Companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA).
- In July 2021, Rep. Newhouse sponsored H.R. 3369, the Broadband for Rural America Act, which provides more than $7 billion in authorizations for USDA broadband connectivity programs.
To learn more about ReConnect Program eligibility, technical assistance and recent announcements, visit the USDA’s ReConnect Website.
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