U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin
Press Release

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Votes for Bipartisan Reform to Increase Access to High Quality Health Care in Rural Wisconsin

Rural communities in Wisconsin and across the country face many challenges in accessing high-quality health care.

By - Nov 29th, 2016 11:41 am

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin today voted for the Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes (ECHO) Act, which passed the Senate with a vote of 97-0. The bipartisan legislation will support rural Wisconsin communities by promoting innovative continuing education for health providers to improve quality care.

“Many Wisconsinites in rural communities face challenges in accessing the high-quality health care they need,” said Senator Baldwin. “I voted for this bipartisan reform to promote innovation and collaboration that will help more Wisconsinites receive high-quality health care, no matter where they live.”

Rural communities in Wisconsin and across the country face many challenges in accessing high-quality health care. Only about 10 percent of physicians practice in rural areas of the United States, despite nearly one-fourth of the population living in these areas. Project ECHO is an innovative medical education system that uses interactive videoconferencing to link specialist teams with primary care providers in rural and underserved areas. The ECHO Act aims to better integrate the Project ECHO model into health systems in Wisconsin and across the country by requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to analyze and provide recommendations for advancing this model.

Studying the Project ECHO model would help assist Wisconsin in integrating this and other innovative models to improve health care delivery for:

  • Patients: Improved access to quality and accessible care, with high-patient satisfaction.
  • Providers: Increased knowledge for providers in rural and underserved areas, with ability to serve as a local resource; improved provider network; enhanced professional satisfaction and reduced isolation; more access to specialists.
  • Health care system: Higher retention of providers in rural and underserved areas; better care delivered in the right place at the right time by the right person; decreased costs.
  • Current health care challenges: Project ECHO has successfully been used to increase the number of physicians able to prescribe buprenorphine for opioid abuse, to quickly educate health providers on public health crises such as H1N1, and to train providers to address complex mental health disorders.

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