Potential Health Care Broadband Act could improve telehealth services

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BISMARCK, N.D. - Lawmakers have introduced a $2 billion Health Care Broadband Expansion Act for telehealth capacity during the pandemic.

Social distancing measures have increased the use of telehealth services.

Health professionals said these services increase safety by allowing them to visit their clients from a distance, but some providers, especially those in rural communities, don’t always have the proper resources to respond to the demand.

“Rural hospitals operate on a very thin margin, so when you stop providing service, for the most part the cash flow stops. You still need to cover your expenses,” said North Dakota Hospital Association President Tim Blasl.

Some healthcare providers in the state are now allowing in-person elective visits again, but telehealth services are still available for those who prefer it.