Back in January, the FCC announced $400 million in funding for creating and expanding rural broadband networks to support telemedicine in medically underserved regions.
Their HealthCare Connect program links urban medical centers and rural clinics, providing real-time consults with immediate access to a patient’s electronic medical records. Since adults 65 and older comprise roughly 14.4 percent of rural residents, this would appear to be an ideal use of technology to contain costs, facilitate care and improve preventive services.
However, last month, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget reclassified Metropolitan Statistical area delineations and moving 97 counties from rural to metropolitan designation. That eliminates Medicare reimbursement for telemedicine services in those areas. Yet just the day before, these same seniors were eligible, avoiding long-distance travel for consults or even basic health check ups. Continue reading