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Rural Health Information Hub

Telehealth Use in Rural Healthcare – News

News stories from the past 60 days.

Mar 23, 2023 - Notice of proposed rule from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) summarizing the January 26, 2023, Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Second FNPRM) regarding the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program. This notice proposes revising the rate determination rules, making it easier for healthcare providers to receive RHC Program funding as soon as they become eligible, and aligning the deadline to request a Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN) change with the invoice filling deadline. The FCC also seeks comments on reinstating the cap on support for satellite services and revising data collected in the Telecom Program. Comments are due by April 24, 2023, and reply comments are due by May 22, 2023.
Source: Federal Register
Mar 23, 2023 - Notice of final rule from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) summarizing the January 26, 2023, Order on Reconsideration, Second Report and Order regarding the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program. This final rule covers urban and rural rates, funding prioritization, and invoicing for the program. This rule is effective April 24, 2023.
Source: Federal Register
Mar 23, 2023 - Highlights the career of Alison Hughes, who helped create the Arizona Telemedicine Program in the mid-1990s through her work with Arizona's Rural Health Office.
Source: Arizona Telemedicine Program
Mar 18, 2023 - Describes a telemental health program for patients in nursing homes and assisted living centers in rural Iowa. Providers predict demand for remote mental health services will continue to increase in rural nursing homes.
Source: Kaiser Health News, USA Today
Mar 15, 2023 - Describes the work of the Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Centers (GRECC) Connect program, which provides support for elderly veterans and their caregivers. GRECC Connect allows veterans to receive real-time virtual care from geriatricians, eliminating the need to travel long distances for specialty care.
Source: VA News
Mar 10, 2023 - Summarizes a roundtable discussion at the American Hospital Association Rural Health Care Leadership Conference in February focused on "Redefining Quality Essentials." Topics included telemedicine, patient-centered medical homes, sharing patient information electronically, quality and performance improvement initiatives, and improving patient engagement.
Source: American Hospital Association
Mar 2, 2023 - Describes Psychiatric Advanced Practice Registered Nurse TechNology-Enhanced Residency (PARTNER), a Medical University of South Carolina-led program that pairs board-certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners with patients in rural areas through telemedicine. The program has treated and diagnosed almost 100 different behavioral health conditions over the course of more than 1,600 patient visits.
Source: Medical University of South Carolina
Mar 1, 2023 - Notice of proposed rule from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) amending its regulations to increase access to buprenorphine treatment for opioid use disorders (OUD). The DEA proposes expanding the circumstances under which individual providers are authorized to prescribe buprenorphine for OUD via telemedicine, including an audio-only telemedicine encounter. Comments are due by March 31, 2023.
Source: Federal Register
Mar 1, 2023 - Notice of proposed rulemaking from the Drug Enforcement Administration regarding the ability of healthcare providers to prescribe controlled medications via telehealth. This proposed rule would also require telemedicine providers to initially limit prescriptions for controlled medications to a 30-day supply without an in-person evaluation or referral from a medical practitioner that has conducted an in-person evaluation. Comments are due by March 31, 2023.
Source: Federal Register
Feb 22, 2023 - Describes changes that are scheduled to occur in policies related to COVID-19 testing and treatment, emergency use authorization for medical countermeasures, liability immunity, Medicaid eligibility and disaster relief, nursing homes, SNAP benefits, student loan repayment, telehealth, and more.
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures
Feb 15, 2023 - Describes policy changes set to occur when the COVID-19 public health emergency ends. Hospitals will no longer be reimbursed an additional 20% for treating COVID-19 patients during the pandemic, and Medicaid recipients will have to re-enroll to ensure they meet the requirements for coverage.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Feb 10, 2023 - Highlights some of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' policies to support rural providers, improve access to care in rural areas, and support the transformation of the rural health delivery system.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Feb 8, 2023 - Highlights ways that schools can use telehealth programs to increase access to mental and physical health services for students, including a program in South Dakota that provides virtual care services for rural students with Type I diabetes.
Source: HealthLeaders Media
Jan 31, 2023 - Announces that the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development program will provide nearly $8 million in investments that will improve healthcare and water infrastructure in rural Louisiana. The funds will be used to buy medical supplies including telehealth equipment, and help rural communities obtain the technical assistance and financing necessary to develop drinking water and waste disposal systems.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Jan 31, 2023 - The Virginia Consortium to Advance Healthcare in Appalachia will use $5.1 million in federal grant money to launch or expand several innovative programs to improve access to care in southwestern Virginia. The effort is aimed at tackling health inequity, improving rural healthcare, and expanding evidence-based models in telehealth for underserved communities.
Source: HealthLeaders
Jan 27, 2023 - In December Congress passed a two-year extension of key telehealth provisions, such as coverage for Medicare beneficiaries to have phone or video medical appointments at home. Telehealth use has increased since the beginning of the pandemic, but politicians are concerned about potential fraud and the cost of expanding telehealth if provisions are made permanent.
Source: Fortune and Kaiser Health News
Jan 26, 2023 - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved several proposals for the Rural Health Care Program to make it easier for healthcare providers to receive support, reduce delays in funding commitments, and improve the efficiency of the program. Reliable high speed connectivity is important for rural healthcare providers to serve patients in rural areas that may have limited resources, fewer doctors, and higher costs for broadband and telecommunications services than urban areas.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Jan 24, 2023 - Highlights a report from GoodRx Research, stating that more than 113,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) live in 492 counties that lack mental health providers. The study also found that counties with a higher population of AI/AN residents had a lower percentage of households with access to telehealth. States with the highest numbers of mental health deserts are Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Alaska. South Dakota and Alaska are among the states with highest numbers of AI/AN residents living in mental health deserts.
Source: The Daily Yonder

Last Updated: 3/24/2023