Sen. Marshall Announces USDA Rural Development Telemedicine Grant for Morton County Health System
(Washington, D.C., February 26, 2021) – Today, U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D announced Morton County Health System, located in Elkhart, was awarded $131,619 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to increase access to telehealth services for over 144,000 residents across eight counties in Kansas as well as patients in counties across four states.
“Telehealth is revolutionizing the way we deliver health care. While I still very much value in-person appointments between doctors and patients, telemedicine affords new, efficient opportunities to connect,” said Senator Marshall. “I am committed to making telehealth a viable option, especially for rural communities, through funding for technical infrastructure and broadband connectivity, as well as payment mechanisms that reimburse providers appropriately.”
The project, funded through the USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program, provides rural health care providers resources to install and modernize their telecommunications infrastructure to connect patients in remote communities to health care providers across all specialties. Specifically, this grant will serve approximately 144,000 residents in the eight counties in the southwest corner of the state, as well as patients coming from Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas. Morton County Health System will be able to implement telemedicine systems in order to serve patients remotely. In addition to the funds received by USDA, Morton County Health System is contributing $19,750 towards this project.
Telehealth can be used for elderly and vulnerable patients to check in with their local doctor remotely, eliminating the risk of exposure to COVID-19 or other illnesses. Telehealth also allows patients and local doctors to consult specialists that are not available in rural communities. CMS has granted additional reimbursement flexibilities for telehealth services in the wake of the COVID-19 public health emergency.