USDA Celebrates National Health IT Week
|Highlights Support for Advanced Health Care Technology|
WASHINGTON, Sept. 17, 2013 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today kicked off National Health IT week by highlighting the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) to expand funding for advanced health care technology in rural America.
"Digital technology holds tremendous promise for the future of health care, and we must ensure that rural Americans have access to the latest in health technology," Vilsack said. "USDA has worked hard to expand digital tools and infrastructure for rural health providers, and as a result more communities are well-positioned to provide cutting edge health care."
USDA is partnering with HHS and the Department of Veterans Affairs to leverage funds to support advanced health care technology in rural hospitals. This partnership is an extension of a successful pilot launched in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi and Texas to identify rural critical access hospitals in persistent poverty areas in need of advanced health care technology.
Rural Development programs provide funding for rural health IT infrastructure and expand local access to high quality health care services for rural Americans nationwide. These Rural Development programs include the Community Facilities loan and grant program, the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant program and the Rural Economic Development loan and grant program.
In conjunction with Health IT Week, Secretary Vilsack announced funding today for the following recipients to make technological upgrades and improve access to quality health care in rural areas. USDA funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan or grant agreement.
President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has a portfolio of programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as the Department implements sequestration – the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act. USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than $828 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions.
For more information about the objective of this initiative and the partnership between Secretaries Vilsack and Sebelius, please follow this link describing the Iowa pilot, which was the first of five pilot projects that took place across five states: http://www.healthit.gov/buzz-blog/local-implementation-support/creative-solutions-expand-iowas-rural-health-funding/