$200 Million COVID-19 Telehealth Program from FCC as Part of CARES Act

UPDATE: On April 2nd (See News Release), the FCC Adopted the $200 Million COVID-19 Telehealth Program and adopted the final rules for the Connected Care Pilot Program.

UPDATE 2: The FCC as issued guidance on the application process for this $200 million in telehealth funding.

UPDATE 3: Applications for the FCC COVID-19 Telehealth Program mentioned in this article will be accepted Monday, April 13, 2020 at 12:00 PM ET at the following link: www.fcc.gov/covid19telehealth. An explainer video will be posted at that link on Monday. Questions specific to the application process should be directed to EmergencyTelehealthSupport@fcc.gov.

UPDATE 4: Just 3 days after applications opened, the FCC has approved the first set of COVID-19 Telehealth funds totaling $3.23 Million.  This is part of the $200 million CARES Act Telehealth funding.  See the announcement and healthcare providers that received the funding.

UPDATE 5: The FCC has announced its 2nd set of telehealth funds totaling $3.71 million.  That brings the FCC’s total COVID-19 Telehealth Program funding to 11 health care providers in 8 states for a total of $6.94 million in funding.  The latest round of funding went to Banyan Community Health Center, Health Partners of Western Ohio, NYU Langone Health, St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, and The University of Michigan Hospital.

Update 6: The FCC has announced its 3rd set of telehealth funds totaling $2.56 million.  That brings the total telehealth funding to $9.5 million.  The funds were awarded to: Anne Arundel Medical Center, Inc, Christiana Care Health Services, Garfield Health Center, Open Health Care Clinic, NYU Grossman School of Medicine, White Plains Hospital Medical Center.

Update 7: The FCC has announced $4.2 million in funding for telehealth services that brings the total telehealth funding to $13.7 million across 30 healthcare organizations in 16 states.  Here are the new awardees: Augusta University Medical Center, Children’s Hospital Colorado, Country Doctor Community Health Centers, Greene County General Hospital, The Institute for Family Health, Lancaster Health Center, Loudoun Community Health Center, Mayo Clinic, McLaren Health Care Corporation, New York Psychotherapy and Counseling Center, Parker Jewish Institue for Health Care and Rehabilitation, Service Program for Older People, and Valley-Wide Health Systems.

Update 8: The FCC has announced $11.19 million in funding for telehealth services which brings the total telehealth funding to $24.9 million.  The latest FCC telehealth funding went to: Ampala Health, Avenue 360 Health and Wellness, Brazos Valley Community Action Agency dba HealthPoint, The Children’s Home of Cincinnati, Chinatown Service Center, Community Health Centers of Burlington, Community Health Center of Lubbock, Delaware Valley Community Health, El Rio Santa Cruz Neighborhood Health Center, Fair Haven Community Health Clinic, Greater Baden Medical Services, Community Health Center, Holyoke Health Center, Kennedy Krieger Children’s Hospital, Linn County Department of Health Services, MA FQHC Telehealth Consortium, Matagorda Episcopal Health Outreach, Mount Sinai Hospital, Navajo Nation Department of Health, OIC Family Medical Center, Parker Health Group, Ponoma Community Health Center, South Plains Rural Health Services, Spectrum Health Services, Wilmington Community Clinic, and Wright Center Medical Group.

Update 9: The FCC has announced an additional 33 funding applications for their COVID-19 telehealth program.  This adds $8.36 to the total telehealth funding of $33.26 million that’s been given to 82 health care providers across 30 states.  We’ll keep updating you on funding totals, but pass on listing the organizations going forward.

Update 10: The FCC has announced an additional $16.87 in telehealth funding to 43 organizations.  That brings the total telehealth funding to 132 health care providers in 33 states for just over $50 million in funding.

Update 11: The FCC has announced an additional $18.22 in telehealth funding to 53 organizations.  That brings the total telehealth funding to 185 health care providers in 38 states for $68.22 million in funding.

This weekend we covered some of the billions of healthcare funding that was included in the CARES Act. One area of CARES Act funding we didn’t highlight for healthcare was $200 million in COVID-19 Telehealth funding that will be administered by the FCC.

Here are the most relevant details from the announcement:

About the COVID-19 Telehealth Program: This $200 million Program would immediately support health care providers responding to the pandemic by providing eligible health care providers support to purchase telecommunications services, information services, and devices necessary to enable the provision of telehealth services during this emergency period. It would provide selected applicants with full funding for these eligible telehealth services and devices. In order to receive funding, eligible health care providers would submit a streamlined application to the Commission for this program, and the Commission would award funds to selected applicants on a rolling basis until the funds are exhausted or until the current pandemic has ended.

Along with the $200 million mentioned above, FCC Chairman Pai also announced the final rule for another $100 million to stand up a broader, longer-term Connected Care Pilot Program. This program would study how connected care efforts could be a permanent part of the Universal Service Fund. The $100 million of funding for the Connected Care Pilot Program would look at funding pilot projects to cover 85% of the eligible costs of broadband connectivity, network equipment, and information services necessary to provide connected care services with an emphasis on projects focused on low-income Americans and veterans.

Here’s the full announcement for those looking for all the details:

CHAIRMAN PAI ANNOUNCES PLAN FOR

$200 MILLION COVID-19 TELEHEALTH PROGRAM

New Program Would Provide Immediate Support to Health Care Facilities and Patients Across the Country; Separate Connected Care Pilot Program Would Study Long-Term Role of Telehealth

WASHINGTON, March 30, 2020—Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai today announced his plan for a COVID-19 Telehealth Program to support health care providers responding to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.  As part of the CARES Act, Congress appropriated $200 million to the FCC to support health care providers’ use of telehealth services in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.  If adopted by the Commission, the Program would help eligible health care providers purchase telecommunications, broadband connectivity, and devices necessary for providing telehealth services.  These services would directly help COVID-19 patients and provide care to patients with other conditions who might risk contracting the coronavirus when visiting a healthcare provider—while reducing practitioners’ potential exposure to the virus.

The Chairman has also presented his colleagues with final rules to stand up a broader, longer-term Connected Care Pilot Program.  It would study how connected care could be a permanent part of the Universal Service Fund by making available up to $100 million of universal service support 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 those services to low-income Americans and veterans.

“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.  I’m calling on my fellow Commissioners to vote promptly to adopt the draft order I circulated today, so that we can take immediate steps to provide support for telehealth services and devices to health care providers during this national crisis,” said Chairman Pai.  “I’d like to thank Congress for acting with bipartisan decisiveness to allocate funding for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program and Commissioner Carr for his leadership on telehealth issues, including the Connected Care Pilot Program.”

“I am grateful to Chairman Pai for his leadership in accelerating this important initiative and for fast-tracking a COVID-19 Telehealth Program.  This decision will further strengthen the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and help Americans access high-quality healthcare without having to visit a hospital in person,” said Commissioner Carr.

About the COVID-19 Telehealth Program:  This $200 million Program would immediately support health care providers responding to the pandemic by providing eligible health care providers support to purchase telecommunications services, information services, and devices necessary to enable the provision of telehealth services during this emergency period.  It would provide selected applicants with full funding for these eligible telehealth services and devices.  In order to receive funding, eligible health care providers would submit a streamlined application to the Commission for this program, and the Commission would award funds to selected applicants on a rolling basis until the funds are exhausted or until the current pandemic has ended.

About the Connected Care Pilot Program:  This three-year Pilot Program would provide universal service support to help defray health care providers’ qualifying costs of providing connected care services.   It would target funding to eligible health care providers, with a primary focus on pilot projects that would primarily benefit low-income or veteran patients.  The Pilot Program would make available up to $100 million, which would be separate from the budgets of the existing Universal Service Fund programs and the COVID-19 Telehealth Program.  The Pilot Program would provide funding for selected pilot projects to cover 85% of the eligible costs of broadband connectivity, network equipment, and information services necessary to provide connected care services to the intended patient population.  In order to participate, eligible health care providers would submit an application to the Commission for the Pilot Program, and the Commission would announce the selected pilot projects.

For updates on the FCC’s wide array of actions during the coronavirus pandemic, visit: https://www.fcc.gov/coronavirus.  For more information on the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge, visit: https://www.fcc.gov/keep-americans-connected.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.

   

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