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Expert warns of upcoming threats to democracy across the nation; Judge in Trump documents case rejects suggestions to step aside; NC businesses fear effects of 'bathroom bill'; Report says restaurants allow abuse, disease risk at MD animal farms.

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A congresswoman celebrates Biden protections for mixed status families, Louisiana's Ten Commandments law faces an inevitable legal challenge, and a senator moves to repeal the strict 19th century anti-obscenity and anti-abortion Comstock Act.

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Rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town, prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands and a Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival.

Improving telehealth access in rural Arkansas

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Tuesday, September 26, 2023   

In rural Arkansas, access to healthcare can be a distant dream - literally - as almost 60 counties in the state do not have enough providers to serve their populations. A new initiative with the Health Resources and Services Administration is working to improve access in these areas, through telehealth.

Heather Dimeris, director, Office for the Advancement of Telehealth at the Health Resources and Services Administration, said delivering care remotely online fills a crucial gap. Arkansans can visit telehealth.hhs.gov to explore their options, including behavioral and mental-health services.

"You can look at anxiety or depression screening through telehealth," she said. "You can also receive treatment for your anxiety or depression and other mental health needs, through one-on-one therapy as well as group therapy. And telehealth has also been extremely helpful in treating patients with substance-use disorders."

Dimeris noted 40% of all behavioral healthcare is now done virtually, including therapy, addiction counseling, and mental-health screening. She adds HRSA also provides telehealth services for treatment of chronic diseases, like diabetes, and information for healthcare providers.

However, the growth of telehealth spotlights another challenge for rural Arkansas - the lack of reliable, affordable internet service. Dimeris added some people can use their cell phones for telehealth services. Or they can apply for discounted internet access through two programs offered by the Federal Communications Commission.

"The Affordable Connectivity Program, as well as the Lifeline Program," she continued. "Both of these programs have eligibility requirements. But if you meet them, you really are able to access either free or reduced cost for broadband services and cell phone services."

Lower-income households can get up to $30 a month off their internet service bill, or $75 a month if they live on tribal lands, according to the FCC.


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