07.10.18

Gardner Urges FCC to Take Additional Action on Telehealth Technology in Colorado

Washington, DC- Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) sent a letter to FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr on Monday about the need for the FCC to continue to seek out new opportunities to bring federal funding for broadband infrastructure to expand telehealth services in Colorado. In addition to talking with the FCC about the importance of telehealth services in Colorado, Senator Gardner has introduced legislation like the Telehealth Innovation and Improvement Act. This legislation would expand access to healthcare in both rural and urban areas by paving the way for Medicare to cover additional telehealth services. 

PDF of letter available here. 

The letter reads in full:

Dear Commissioner Carr:

Coloradans deserve access to quality healthcare regardless of which corner of the state they are from, and telehealth plays a critical role in bridging the rural-urban healthcare divide.  As a fifth-generation Coloradan from the rural Eastern Plains of the state, I have experienced first-hand the burden imposed on family and neighbors tasked with traveling long hours to access quality healthcare. Excellent broadband infrastructure can help alleviate these burdens, something I am thankful you witnessed yourself in visits to Colorado and conversations with our rural telecommunications providers.

With rising suicide rates and a growing mental health provider shortage, Colorado is facing a mental health crisis.  According to the Colorado Health Institute, in 2016, a record number of 1,156 Coloradans died from suicide. These numbers are particularly stark across the Western Slope of Colorado where the high suicide rates are coupled with severe mental health provider shortages and challenging travel conditions and distances. Telepsychiatry has the potential to alleviate the burden of these shortages by quickly connecting individuals facing challenges to mental health providers in urban centers.   

For rural Coloradans with chronic conditions, the hours spent traveling to and from Denver represent days off work and lost productivity. From pioneering innovative outreach strategies for low-income Type I diabetics across the region to collaborating with rural physicians on best-practices, Colorado providers have led the way in developing innovative telehealth strategies. As technologies continue to improve, telemedicine has the potential to dramatically improve health outcomes for rural America.  

Broadband connectivity remains a significant barrier to telehealth adoption and is a key feature of the urban-rural digital divide. I hope you continue to work at the Federal Communications Commission to find ways to empower rural communities and provider networks when it comes to delivering communities in Colorado and beyond quality telehealth services.

 

         ### 

Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and the Budget Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.