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FCC Nominee Cites Advancing Telemedicine Opportunities As Primary Focus

As part of his testimony on Wednesday, June 20, 2018 before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Federal Communications Commission nominee Geoffrey Starks said, “I think it is essential that we advance broadband telemedicine programs to improve access to quality medical services and health outcomes.”

Starks cited the advancement of telemedicine opportunities as one of his primary areas of focus if confirmed as an FCC commissioner. Starks’ testimony comes just days after the current FCC commissioners voted to increase the agency’s funding for its Rural Health Care Program, which provides discounts on telecommunication services to rural health providers. Based on his testimony, Starks, if confirmed, would add another strong advocate for the expansion of telemedicine services to the FCC. The Committee is expected to vote on Starks’ nomination in the coming weeks.

Starks believes that telemedicine can play a critical role in allowing patients in rural areas to access care that otherwise may not be available in their communities. Lack of access to affordable broadband, however, is a barrier for many patients who would otherwise benefit from telemedicine services. Starks indicated that he believes in order “for telemedicine to be a universal reality, citizens, and the health care providers that service them need access to affordable broadband connectivity wherever they live and serve.” He cited successful tele-trauma programs that enable physicians to provide remote examinations of emergency patients, as well as telemedicine programs that are being used to fight the opioid abuse epidemic as examples of how telemedicine can benefit patients living in rural communities.

Having Starks as another voice on the FCC advocating for expanded rural broadband services may help ensure the continued growth of rural telemedicine services.

Arent Fox’s Health Care group regularly monitors developments related to telehealth and telemedicine regulatory issues, and regularly assists clients in developing telemedicine programs that comply with federal and state requirements. For more information about federal or state telemedicine requirements or other regulatory issues impacting health care providers, please contact Douglas Grimm or Hillary Stemple in our Washington, DC office, Lowell Brown or Thomas Jeffry in our Los Angeles office or the Arent Fox professional who usually handles your matters.

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