August 27, 2018

Senator Hassan Leads Colleagues in Urging FCC to Maintain Focus on Maternal Health in Telehealth Pilot Program

WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today led a group of her colleagues from the Committee in urging Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Ajit Pai to maintain focus on maternal health as the Commission moves forward with its proposed Connected Care pilot program. This pilot would support access to care using telehealth. The letter comes after the FCC released a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) on supporting access to health care through telehealth in the Connected Care pilot program.

“Telehealth can potentially offer critical and cost-effective solutions to pregnant women, as some of the most common pregnancy-related complications can be avoided with routine monitoring and medical care,” the Senators wrote. “As the FCC moves forward with this pilot program, we request that you maintain the focus on maternal health in the NOI. We also encourage you to work with the Department of Health and Human Services to identify best practices for positive outcomes for mothers and babies by using safe, effective telehealth applications and devices in the Connected Care pilot program.” 

The Senators emphasized the importance of telehealth to rural and low-income communities across the country and reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring that such communities have access to the care they need. 

“Getting additional resources to rural and low-income communities is crucial to solving our nation’s most pressing health care challenges, including for mothers and babies,” the Senators concluded. “Telehealth services can provide an innovative way for individuals to access care, and we look forward to working with you to help connect our most vulnerable populations to the care they need.”

Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), joined in sending the letter to Chairman Pai.

See below for the text of the letter, or click here.

August 27, 2018

  

The Honorable Ajit Pai

Chairman

Federal Communications Commission

445 12th Street Southwest

Washington, DC 20554 

Dear Chairman Pai:

We write today regarding the Notice of Inquiry (NOI) from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to support access to care using telehealth in the Connected Care pilot program.  One fifth of the U.S. population resides in rural communities where it can often be difficult to access health care services, and telehealth has the potential to expand access to necessary care for these populations.  This pilot program will help to connect individuals to care where they live. 

We were especially pleased to see the emphasis on maternal health care in the NOI. Between 2010 and 2014, nearly 10 percent of rural hospitals closed their obstetrics units, leaving the women who depend on this care with limited options. Telehealth can potentially offer critical and cost-effective solutions to pregnant women, as some of the most common pregnancy-related complications can be avoided with routine monitoring and medical care.

As the FCC moves forward with this pilot program, we request that you maintain the focus on maternal health in the NOI. We also encourage you to work with the Department of Health and Human Services to identify best practices for positive outcomes for mothers and babies by using safe, effective telehealth applications and devices in the Connected Care pilot program. 

Getting additional resources to rural and low-income communities is crucial to solving our nation’s most pressing health care challenges, including for mothers and babies. Telehealth services can provide an innovative way for individuals to access care, and we look forward to working with you to help connect our most vulnerable populations to the care they need.

Sincerely, 

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