The AAMC joined a Sept. 15 letter to Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Ranking Member Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) requesting additional funding for the Telehealth Resource Centers (TRC) program in the fiscal year (FY) 2022 LHHS spending bill.
The TRC program, which is run through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and includes two national resources centers, provides funding to nonprofit organizations to deliver comprehensive technical assistance to organizations and individuals that are providing telehealth services, including rural health clinics, hospital systems, and individual providers in communities across the country.
Funding for each TRC has remained level at $325,000 annually since 2006. However, the letter notes that TRCs have experienced an 800% increase in demand for telehealth assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The letter requests $27 million total in funding in FY 2022 to address this demand and notes, “HRSA’s increasingly critical TRC program has not had an increase in federal funding since 2006, threatening its sustainability and operation as demands for skilled and experienced telehealth support burgeon.”
It also adds, “Nearly half of the TRCs are associated with universities and are familiar with research taking place. Quite simply, the TRCs are where people go to ask telehealth questions, and they are then able to assess what are matters of concerns and issues that are being raised. This information is invaluable to the federal government as it decides the future of telehealth policy in the nation.”