FCC Debuts $200M Telehealth Program
The FCC has proposed a $200 million program to support health care providers’ use of telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission announced March 30. Congress appropriated the $200 million to the FCC in the CARES Act.
If the program is adopted by the Commission, it will immediately help eligible health care providers purchase telecommunications, broadband connectivity, and devices necessary for providing telehealth services, and provide selected applicants with full funding.
A senior FCC official said in a media call on Monday that it will be up to health care providers to decide what kind of connectivity they want to purchase, whether it be wired or wireless, for example, or a connected medical device. Also, the official said this program is not only for rural health care providers, but for all eligible providers across the U.S., including in urban areas.
In a news release, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called on his colleagues to adopt his draft order on the COVID-19 Telehealth program.
“As we self-isolate and engage in social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth will continue to become more and more important across the country. Our nation’s health care providers are under incredible, and still increasing, strain as they fight the pandemic. My plan for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program is a critical tool to address this national emergency,” Chairman Pai said.
In addition, Pai shared his plans for a longer-term Connected Care Pilot Program, which would make up to $100 million of universal service support available over three years to help defray eligible health care providers’ costs of providing telehealth services to patients at their homes or mobile locations, with an emphasis on providing services to low-income Americans and veterans.