Senators Look at Expanding Telemedicine in Rural U.S.

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WASHINGTON, D.C., – On Thursday, lawmakers in Washington, D.C., took on the 2018 Farm Bill. 
    
For folks in rural America, the primary focus is on treating opioid addiction via telemedicine.
    
“Growing up in Indiana, agriculture and small towns have been my life’s calling,” said Anne Hazlett with the USDA.

Hazlette detailed the USDA’s work to strengthen rural communities and farm towns around the country. 

The committee is working on the 2018 Farm Bill, the main piece of legislation that sets agriculture policy for the United States. 

Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana, asked about how the USDA is handling the opioid crisis. 

“Opioids and substance abuse impact every community, but accessing treatment is even more of a challenge in some of our rural areas,” Donnelly said. 

Hazlett said she is working to put treatment facilities in communities that need them. 

“As well as using innovation through telemedicine to access services that might not be available,” Hazlett said. 

Several senators asked about improving access to high-speed internet in remote areas. 

“In order for our communities to thrive, they need to be able to compete in the 21st century economy,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan. 

The USDA told Stabenow it’s putting more than $400 million toward expanding broadband. 

“These investments connect communities to the information age and the world to rural America’s talents, services and products,” the USDA said. 

By expanding broadband, senators hope more people would have access to opioid treatment, through telemedicine. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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