October 27, 2005

Crapo Gains Funds For Telehealth Grants

Grants targets telehealth resources centers for rural states

Washington, DC â?? The access that rural Idahoans have to top-quality medical care gained Senate support today under an amendment to an appropriations bill proposed by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo and several colleagues. The amendment provides $10 million for telehealth grant programs and will fund a minimum of ten telehealth resource center throughout the county. Crapo was joined by lead sponsor Senator Jon Thune (R-South Dakota), and co-sponsors Senators Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota), Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), and Jim Talent (R-Missouri). It was adopted on a voice vote and is now part of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill, which is currently under debate in the U.S. Senate. Crapo said, â??Idaho has a preeminent telehealth network that can benefit significantly from the grant fund in this amendment. The amendment makes a small investment in telehealth that will significantly improve the safety net for underserved and uninsured individuals. This means a great deal to rural states like Idaho and will fulfill the promise that Congress made when it passed the Health Care Safety Net Amendments several years ago to improve access to the healthcare system and address critical clinical shortages. It will allow much-needed growth and improvement in the field of telehealth. Idaho is well-positioned to receive one of the resource centers for smaller population states and I intend to advocate for its selection.â?? Specifically, the amendment funds the following:$2.5 Million for a minimum of 10 telehealth resource centers, which will provide assistance with respect to technical, legal and regulatory, service delivery or other related barriers to the deployment of telehealth, and of which two centers will be located in states with populations of 1.5 million or less; $5 Million for network grants and demonstration or pilot projects for telehomecare; and $2.5 Million for grants to carry out programs under which state health licensing boards cooperatively develop and implement policies that reduce statutory and regulatory barriers to telehealth. More than 280 organizations and individuals from across the country representing telehealth networks and associations, home health agencies, academic institutions, health associations, membership organizations, rural health entities, licensure boards, and industry supported the amendment.FOR INTERESTED MEDIA: A radio actuality is available by calling 1-800-545-1267. Press 327 at any time during or after the greeting and instructions. You can also access the actuality through the Internet at http://src.senate.gov/radio/.