July 11, 2018

Young: New FCC “Connected Care Pilot Program” Welcome News in Indiana

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) today welcomed the announcement by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that a new $100 million “Connected Care Pilot Program” is being established to support telehealth for veterans and Americans in rural and low-income areas. Senator Young hosted FCC Commissioner Carr in Indiana in May to get a firsthand look at the need for continued investments in rural broadband and telehealth. They visited Hancock Health operations in McCordsville and viewed a demonstration from the chief medical officer on how they are able to use telemedicine to collaborate between physicians to diagnose and treat cancer. As a result, cancer patients in this community receive treatment more quickly than they ever have before. 

Earlier this week, Senator Young sent a letter to Commissioner Carr urging the development of new and innovative programs to expand the use of telemedicine throughout Indiana and the entire country. “I would encourage you and your colleagues at the FCC to take additional steps to support connectivity for telemedicine, which could include looking for ways to bring healthcare into the home in new, innovative ways. This could be particularly helpful in rural and other underserved communities across Indiana that continue to face challenges in obtaining access to high-quality healthcare,” Senator Young wrote

By enabling patients to seek medical treatment via telemedicine, patients can receive faster, more effective, and more accessible treatment. According to the FCC, a study of 20 remote patient monitoring trials found a 20 percent reduction in all-cause mortality and a 15 percent reduction in heart failure-related hospitalizations. Additionally, the Veterans Health Administration’s remote patient monitoring program resulted in a 25 percent reduction in days of inpatient care and a 19 percent reduction in hospital admission.

Telehealth also has the potential to reduce the cost of taxpayer-funded healthcare programs in the long-term. According to the FCC, a telehealth project in the Northeastern U.S. found that every $1 spent on remote monitoring resulted in a $3.30 return in savings.

“Ultimately, I believe these types of interactions could save taxpayer funded healthcare programs money in the long-term. However, any new funds used to expand telemedicine in this way must include rigorous evaluations to ensure that we are receiving a ‘return on investment’ that truly drives health costs down,” Senator Young added in his letter

Under the FCC’s new “Connected Care Pilot Program,” healthcare and broadband providers throughout the country would be able to apply for funding to support telehealth projects. The FCC will vote on a Notice of Inquiry at its August Open Meeting that seeks public comment on the next steps for establishing the program. 

“I want to thank Senator Todd Young for his work and leadership in promoting greater telehealth opportunities across the Hoosier state,” Commissioner Carr said. “The FCC has long supported the deployment of broadband to healthcare facilities, but advances in technology mean that high-tech, life-saving services are no longer limited to the confines of connected, brick-and-mortar facilities. I saw this firsthand when I visited Indiana with Senator Young in May. Since then, my office has been meeting with experts in this field, visiting rural health care facilities, and working to see how the FCC can support this movement towards connected care.”

Click here to view the announcement from FCC Commissioner Carr.