Ranking Member Rosendale on the Digital Divide in Healthcare
Washington, DC -- Today, Representative Rosendale, ranking member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Technology Modernization, participated in a roundtable discussion with veteran advocates, local and tribal organizations about the digital divide and veterans’ access to technology and telehealth services. The priority of the roundtable was to understand the perspectives from local and underserved veteran communities.
Representative Rosendale invited Mr. Thomas Parker, board member and veterans’ service liaison of Impact Montana, and Mr. Ryan Beston, director of veterans’ affairs from the Fort Peck Tribal Community to join this roundtable. Rosendale’s questions to the participants focused on their personal experiences with telehealth services and how these services can improve as a resource for their communities and rural Montana as a whole.
One-in-four rural Americans can’t connect to high-speed internet at home, and on rural tribal lands, that figure jumps to nearly seven out of ten. For Montanans, the digital divide is a persistent issue. The roundtable participants emphasized the basic technology infrastructure problems they face in communities as well as the importance of local decision-making and solutions that take into account the particular needs of individual communities.
“The federal government is allocating an unprecedented amount of money toward solving this problem, and I believe to fill in the gaps effectively we need to leverage private, federal, and state partnerships. Perhaps most importantly, local governments need to be involved in the decision-making.” Representative Rosendale said.
Rosendale’s remarks as prepared:
Good morning. I appreciate everyone joining us for our second conversation about veterans and the digital divide.
I represent the great state of Montana where one in ten of my constituents are veterans or servicemembers, and I am grateful for their service to our nation.
One in four rural Americans can’t connect to high-speed internet at home. On rural tribal lands, that figure jumps to nearly seven out of ten. For Montanans, the digital divide is a persistent issue.
Lack of internet access is not just a problem at our homes. According to the FCC, tribal lands are nearly four-and-a-half times more likely to lack any terrestrial broadband internet access as those on non-tribal. This is unacceptable.
VA hospitals and clinics are almost universally connected to high-speed internet, no matter where they are located. Unfortunately, that is not always the case for smaller community health care providers, where about one-third of veterans get care.
The federal government is allocating an unprecedented amount of money toward solving this problem, and I believe to fill in the gaps effectively we need to leverage private, federal, and state partnerships. Perhaps most importantly, local governments need to be involved in the decision-making.
I am eager to hear from all of you about your perspectives and the situations in your communities.
I am especially thankful to Mr. Ryan Beston from the Fort Peck tribal community and Mr. Tommy Parker from Impact Montana for joining us today.
Fort Peck is home to over 12,000 tribal members. The Fort Peck Reservation is located in northeastern Montana, an exceptionally rural area.
Impact Montana is a great grassroots service organization that focuses on servicemembers and veterans as well as their families.
I look forward to hearing from you all today. With that, I will conclude my remarks so we can get right into the discussion.