October 24, 2019
OCHIN supports legislation announced by U.S. Representative Josh Harder (CA-10), the Specialty Treatment Access and Referrals (STAR) Act. This legislation will provide support through a grant program for the creation of greater telehealth infrastructure and eConsult adoption across the U.S. to allow patients and doctors nationwide to connect electronically with specialty providers in other locations.
“I stand behind legislation that helps to advance virtual care with the added technical and financial support to make it reality,” says Vanetta Abdellatif, Multnomah County Community Health Center CEO and OCHIN’s Board Chair. “Telehealth and eConsult services are critical for reaching our hardest to reach patients in rural and medically underserved communities. Health centers like ours need financial and technical help to use these tools and ensure we aren’t leaving our patients behind.”
Many patients in rural and medically underserved areas lack access to specialty care to manage chronic conditions, mental health challenges, and more. These patients often have to travel for hours for an appointment or skip vital care altogether. Advances in technology allow effective and inexpensive ways to increase access to specialty care, no matter where a patient lives. While these advances have the potential to close the gap in access to much needed care, many community health centers lack the technology and funding necessary to implement these virtual care options. The STAR Act would create a grant program to help health care organizations establish the information-sharing and connectivity infrastructure necessary to provide virtual care programs like telehealth and eConsults.
“We know the promise of innovative technology for our patients and providers, and we can begin to realize it through legislation that advances funding and technical support through partners that understand health centers,” says Kim Schwartz, CEO of Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center, an OCHIN member in North Carolina. “I strongly support telehealth and eConsult models for our patients, who deserve the very best in care.”
Please contact Jennifer Stoll, Executive Vice President of Government Relations and Public Affairs, with any questions.