Presidential candidate unveils telehealth-focused rural plan

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Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bennet has unveiled his healthcare plan for rural America. It includes big investments in telemedicine. He noted that this is necessary as 72 percent of land in the U.S. is located away from the metro areas.

Bennet said on his website that rural Americans are facing unique challenges to access high-quality, affordable healthcare. Chronic diseases, such as heart diseases and diabetes, are more prevalent in rural communities. There is a lack of providers and insurers, which has resulted in higher costs and lower quality of care.

He said a potential Bennet Administration would make expansion of health coverage one of its top priorities, boosting care through a combination of the “Medicare-X” public option the Colorado Senator introduced with his Democratic colleague, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, in 2017.

His rural plan involves investments in telemedicine and remote patient monitoring. He believes that telemedicine can play a vital role to deliver care to people in remote communities who cannot drive to far away medical facilities. Remote patient monitoring provides patients and providers the ability to track their health metrics, thus preventing hospitalizations and emergency room visits.

Bennet pledged make a $40 billion capital investment to connect the entire country to high-speed, reliable affordable broadband to help rural health providers to communicate with patients and monitor health conditions remotely.

He introduced The Broadband Transparency and Accountability Act of 2019 aiming to reform how broadband internet service providers companies report data to the federal government about affordability and access to broadband.

Bennet said that every home, hospital and farm without broadband leads to the failure of the ambition to build a 21st century economy for everyone. While introducing the Senate bill he pointed out that for years the FCC’s flawed data collection has kept everyone away from knowing who in America has broadband and who doesn’t – especially in rural areas.