WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) announced that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has awarded CentraCare Health System headquartered in St. Cloud, Minnesota, more than $230,000 for telehealth services.

“Americans have benefited from telehealth during the pandemic and have come to rely on it for access to care, especially in rural communities,” said Klobuchar. “This funding will help CentraCare Health System expand its services and meet the needs of its patients. I’ll continue pushing for resources to ensure Minnesotans in all parts of our state are able to access affordable, quality health care.”

“In Minnesota, we have seen how telehealth services have become a lifeline during this pandemic,” said Smith. “In communities across the state, access to telehealth has been a critically important way to ensure patients have access to health care services they can afford. This funding will go a long way towards advancing that effort.”

This funding will be used to purchase telehealth equipment and software licenses to increase access to care and services. 

Klobuchar and Smith have championed the expansion of telehealth during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Last month, Klobuchar and Smith announced that the FCC granted Essentia Health in Duluth more than $981,200 to expand telehealth services.

In July of 2020, they joined a bipartisan group of 30 colleagues in a letter to Senate leadership calling for the expansion of access to telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries made during the coronavirus pandemic to be permanent.

In July of 2021, Klobuchar and Representative Angie Craig (D-MN) sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) encouraging the agency to ensure Minnesotans can access telehealth services beyond the coronavirus pandemic. This followed the introduction of Klobuchar’s legislation with Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to enhance telehealth support for seniors and increase access to technology for "virtual visits" during the coronavirus pandemic.

Smith has pushed for advancing telehealth during the pandemic and beyond. She successfully worked to secure $500 million for the Community Facilities Program to help rural hospitals respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen their operations moving forward, including by expanding telehealth access, strengthening the health care workforce and expanding nutrition assistance. She also led the push this year to improve access to tele-mental health care during the pandemic, by introducing the bipartisan Tele-Mental Health Improvement Act and Home-Based Tele-mental Health Care Act in March.

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