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USDA, HHS, FCC Sign Memorandum for Rural Health Program; Sonny Perdue Quoted

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The Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have signed an agreement to maintain the delivery of health services to rural areas in the U.S. amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The partnership will create an interagency task force and conduct regular meetings to brainstorm and explore recommendations and future guidelines for the Rural Telehealth Initiative, USDA said Tuesday.

The Rural Telehealth Initiative aims to market broadband services and address health and service provider gaps through collaboration and information sharing efforts.

Ajit Pai, chairman at FCC, said the agency adopted the $200M COVID-19 telehealth effort and approved 539 funding applications from various healthcare providers.

"USDA’s Rural Broadband ReConnect program is delivering nearly $650 million in loans, grants, and loan-grant combinations to deploy high-speed broadband internet to rural communities who do not have access," said Sonny Perdue, USDA secretary.