Nov 21 2019
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) today applauded $1,197,247 in rural development funding to further telemedicine at the University of Virginia, George Mason University, VCU Health’s Community Memorial Hospital in Mecklenburg County, Va. and the Appalachian Agency for Senior Citizens in Tazewell County, Va. This funding was awarded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant program.
“Telehealth services have the power to decrease travel time and increase access to specialized health care in some of Virginia’s most underserved communities,” said the Senators. “We are thrilled to see these grants go to boosting telemedicine services and provider training at the University of Virginia, George Mason University, VCU’s Community Memorial Hospital, and the Appalachian Agency for Senior Citizens.”
The funding will be awarded as below:
- $154,600 for the Appalachian Agency for Senior Citizens to provide telemedicine services to low-income elderly and disabled individuals who will attend the adult day care facility located in Falls Mills. The facility will provide medical care, nutrition services, and day care and care coordination, while also providing economic development for the community and educational opportunities for the public. This rural investment will benefit approximately 25,000 residents at nine sites across a four-county area.
- $397,668 for the University of Virginia to enable the Rector and Visitors Center to implement the Virginia Telemedicine Network for Cardio-metabolic disease, Opioid Use Disorder, Ophthalmology, Black Lung Disease and Cancer. The University of Virginia Health System (UVAHS) will serve as the hub site to deliver health care services and training to 19 community health care providers in 12 counties, including federally qualified health centers (FQHC) and free clinics that serve economically distressed regions of Virginia. This project will reach 750,000 rural residents.
- $500,000 for George Mason University to implement a telemedicine project to provide training of medical professionals in the area of opioid dependency and treatment. This program will serve a population of almost 177,000 residents across Virginia and West Virginia.
- $144,979 for Community Memorial Hospital to create the Rural Center for Integrated Telemedicine. This center will provide medical services via interactive video conferencing equipment, to four sites in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, and will benefit approximately 11,000 residents.
The USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine program helps rural communities use the unique capabilities of telecommunications to connect to each other and to the world, overcoming the effects of remoteness and low population density. Applicants eligible for Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants include most State and local governmental entities, federally-recognized tribes, nonprofits, for-profit businesses and consortia of eligible entities.
Sens. Warner and Kaine have been strong advocates for rural communities and health care access in the Commonwealth. Last year, the Senators saw through the passage of the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018, which included a provision by Sen. Warner to expand telehealth services for substance abuse treatment. Additionally, Sen. Warner introduced legislation – cosponsored by Sen. Kaine – last month to expand telehealth services through Medicare, make it easier for patients to connect with their doctors, and help cut costs for patients and providers. Sen. Kaine also introduced legislation to expand health care to rural areas through telehealth. The bill passed out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee in June as part of the Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019. And in 2003, then-Gov. Warner expanded Medicaid coverage for telemedicine statewide, including evaluation and management visits, a range of individual psychotherapies, the full range of consultations, and some clinical services, including in cardiology and obstetrics.