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Amendment would boost rural health systems

Washington, DC - Rural medical services using improved technology known as telehealth will receive a boost under a proposal co-sponsored by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo and cleared by the U.S. Senate. Crapo joined Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota) to sponsor an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2008 Labor, Health, Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill that adds $6.8 million to increase telehealth resources across the nation. The amendment has been approved as part of the bill, which is due to be voted on later this week.

"Telehealth uses digital technology and the Internet to allow prompt, accurate diagnosis and treatment even when patients and doctors are many miles apart," Crapo said. "The use of telehealth is critical for residents in rural states like Idaho. It is already working here and we need to expand it to every corner of the state and nation."

Crapo is joined by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) and Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota) in sponsoring the amendment. If approved, the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth would receive a total of $13.8 million for telehealth improvements around the nation.

Crapo has been recognized for his efforts on telehealth and interactive medical technology by the Steering Committee on Telehealth and Healthcare Informatics. Idaho State University in Pocatello and the Institute of Rural Health at ISU have provided significant leadership for telehealth technology in Idaho.

A member of the Medical Technology Caucus, Crapo has been a strong proponent in Congress for breakthrough medical technologies. He helped establish a telehealth link to study diabetes and other health issues for the Coeur d'Alene Tribe in Plummer.