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Chairman Response Regarding Rural Health Care Pilot Program

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Released: August 22, 2014




July 18,2014


The Honorable John Thune

Ranking Member

Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

United States Senate

624 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Thune:

Thank you for your letter regarding the status of the Rural Health Care Skilled Nursing

Facilities Pilot Program (SNF Pilot). I understand and appreciate your interest in the SNF Pilot

and the role of skilled nursing facilities in delivering health care to our country. Your views are

very important and will be considered as we continue to evaluate implementation of the SNF


In 2012, the Commission released a Report and Order that created the Healthcare

Connect Fund to reform, expand, and modernize the Rural Health Care Program. The

Healthcare Connect Fund provides support for high-capacity broadband connectivity to eligible

health care providers and encourages the formation of state and regional broadband health care

provider networks. In adopting the Healthcare Connect Fund, the Commission also established a

three-year, $50 million SNF Pilot to test how to support broadband connections for skilled

nursing facilities.

As you note in your letter, implementation of the SNF Pilot was deferred pending the

Commission's consideration of health care related proposals outlined in the Technology

Transitions Order. However, skilled nursing facilities, like those operated by the Evangelical

Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, can still participate in the Healthcare Connect Fund by

joining health care provider networks and taking advantage of the economies of scale that are

driven by bulk buying and competitive bidding. The Commission has been working with the

skilled nursing facility community to educate them about how they can utilize the Healthcare

Connect Fund, and I welcome further dialogue with you and other stakeholders about how we

can ensure they are aware of this opportunity.

I appreciate your interest in this matter. Please let me know if I can be of any further


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