Massachusetts Medical Society: tMed Coalition Letter Regarding the Use of American Rescue Plan Act Funds

tMed Coalition Letter Regarding the Use of American Rescue Plan Act Funds

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Dear Chair Michlewitz, Chair Rodrigues and Honorable Committee Members:

The tMED Coalition and its members wish to express its gratitude and appreciation for the funding to support equitable and affordable broadband adoption, infrastructure improvements, and digital literacy programming to close the digital divide included in both HB.4234 and SB. 2564, An Act Relative to Immediate COVID-19 Recovery Needs. As a coalition that advocates for expanded access to telehealth services, we have noted significant barriers in accessing such care for communities that lack digital literacy. This is of particular importance from a health equity perspective, especially as telehealth grows in its utilization. Initial statewide data indicates that the utilization of telehealth for certain patient populations increased by 5,100% in March 2020 when compared to March 2019. The digital divide ultimately results in a healthcare divide.

To address this existing and likely growing disparity, the tMED Coalition respectfully encourages you to support the language adopted by the House in section 4 of HB4234 in lines 1384-1386 that seeks to expand digital literacy for residents experiencing economic hardship including those who have taken advantage of the federal communication commission’s (FCC) emergency broadband benefit program and the FCC’s lifeline program. This language would prioritize funding for those populations who have experienced increased barriers in accessing healthcare and telehealth services, including those disproportionately affected by COVID-19, the elderly, patients of color, and those who may need assistance with telehealth services due to limited English proficiency or limited literacy with digital health tools. From a provider perspective, there is tremendous clinical benefit to patients and administrative benefit to practices in having increased technological and other support available to patients accessing care via telehealth and ensuring that they are literate in the use of these devices with the goal of improving their own health.

Thank you for your time and your consideration of this matter. We appreciate the Legislature’s thoughtful deliberation regarding the use of ARPA funding and for your consideration of these funds as an important intervention for health equity for our patients.

If you have any questions, please contact Leda Anderson, Esq., MMS’s Legislative Counsel for Advocacy, Government & Community Relations, at landerson@mms.org, or Allie Cataldo, MHA’s Manager of State Government Affairs, at acataldo@mhalink.org.

List of tMED Coalition Members:
Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association
Massachusetts Medical Society
Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers
Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals
Massachusetts Council of Community Hospitals
Hospice & Palliative Care Federation of Massachusetts
American College of Physicians – Massachusetts Chapter
Highland Healthcare Associates IPA
Health Care For All
Organization of Nurse Leaders
HealthPoint Plus Foundation
Massachusetts Association of Behavioral Health Systems
Massachusetts Academy of Family Physicians
Seven Hills Foundation & Affiliates
Case Management Society of New England
Massachusetts Association for Occupational Therapy
Atrius Health
New England Cable & Telecommunications Association
Association for Behavioral Healthcare
National Association of Social Workers – Massachusetts Chapter
Massachusetts Psychiatric Society
Digital Diagnostics
Zipnosis
Perspectives Health Services
Bayada Pediatrics
American Heart Association / American Stroke Association
Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts
Mass. Family Planning Association
BL Healthcare
Phillips
Maven Project
Upstream USA
Cambridge Health Alliance
Heywood Healthcare
Franciscan Children’s Hospital
American Physical Therapy Association – Massachusetts
Community Care Cooperative
Fertility Within Reach
Virtudent
Resolve New England
Massachusetts Association of Mental Health
AMD Global Telemedicine
hims | hers
Asian Women for Health


This letter was sent to Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, Rep. Daniel Hunt, Rep. Todd Smola, Sen. Michael Rodrigues, Sen. Cindy Friedman and Sen. Patrick O'Connor.

View a PDF version of this letter here.

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