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Washington, D.C. —  Senator John Thune (R-SD) today offered an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2006 Labor-HHS appropriations bill that would set aside $10 million for the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth to increase access to telehealth resources across the nation:

"Access to health care is a growing concern among Americans across the country. In this era of modern medicine, telehealth is an important innovation that promises greater access to high quality health care with reduced costs for patients and health care providers throughout the country," Thune said. "By using telecommunications and information technologies, telehealth has the ability to provide quality health care service at a distance to patients in rural states like South Dakota and in remote, isolated or even devastated areas across the country.

"The amendment I offered today would provide critical funding to the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth and will have an impact on nearly every health activity in the larger Labor-HHS appropriations bill. This is a modest investment with great potential for the future of our nation's health care system."

Senator Thune's amendment would set aside $10 million for the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth to fund the following grants:

  • $2.5 million to establish a minimum of 10 telehealth resource centers, which provide assistance with respect to technical, legal and regulatory, service delivery or other related barriers to the deployment of telehealth technologies. Two of these centers must be located in a state with a population of less than 1.5 million individuals.

  • $5 million for network grants and telehomecare pilot projects.

  • $2.5 million for grants to state health licensing boards to develop and implement cooperative polices that reduce statutory and regulatory barriers to telehealth.

More than 200 organizations across the country have voiced their support for a $10 million appropriation to the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth.