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Klobuchar sponsors rural health legislation

WASHINGTON-- U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is co-sponsoring bipartisan legislation to improve access to rural health care. The Universal Service Fund's Rural Health Care Program provides funding for modern telecommunications and broadband services used...

WASHINGTON- U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is co-sponsoring bipartisan legislation to improve access to rural health care.

The Universal Service Fund's Rural Health Care Program provides funding for modern telecommunications and broadband services used to provide health care in rural communities. While skilled nursing facilities provide critical health care support to rural communities, often using telehealth services, current law does not allow these facilities to receive support from the RHCP. The Rural Health Care Connectivity Act, which was introduced by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., would allow skilled nursing facilities to access this critical program, improving the health care services they can provide to our rural communities.

"Preserving and strengthening access to high-quality health care in rural areas is crucial to the success and prosperity of our state," Klobuchar said in a release. "By supporting the critical care that skilled nursing facilities provide, often using telehealth services, this bipartisan bill will help ensure that all Minnesotans have access to high-quality health care no matter where they live."

Klobuchar has also introduced the Conrad State 30 & Physician Access Act, designed to allow international doctors trained in the United States to extend their stay in the country if they agree to practice in underserved communities. She has also supported legislation like the Critical Access Hospital Relief Act and the Protecting Access to Rural Therapy Services Act, which aims to strengthen and expand access to care in rural areas.

Klobuchar signed a bipartisan letter with Thune and 59 other senators calling on the Federal Communications Commission to modernize rules intended to ensure that Americans in rural areas have access to affordable broadband services. She has introduced the bipartisan Rural Spectrum Accessibility Act with Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., to increase wireless broadband access in rural communities by providing incentives for wireless carriers to lease unused spectrum to rural or smaller carriers. She authored the Broadband Conduit Deployment Act to require states to simultaneously install broadband conduits as part of certain federal transportation projects, including building a new highway or adding a new lane or shoulder to an existing highway. The president issued an executive order in 2012 that included an initiative known as "Dig Once" that was derived from this legislation. She also submitted comments to the recently established federal Broadband Opportunity Council in June 2015.

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