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April 15, 2020

FCC Offers Financial Support for Telehealth Services

The Federal Communications Commission offers new programs for physicians and other providers aimed at assisting with your telehealth program setup and enhancing capacity.

FCC COVID-19 Telehealth Program

The FCC established a COVID-19 Telehealth Program, which was approved on April 2. Funds may be used to purchase telecommunications services, information services and connected devices to provide connected care services in response to COVID-19. The FCC is accepting applications immediately on a rolling basis until they are exhausted or the pandemic ends.

Organizations located in areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases will be given priority as well as underfunded institutions with mostly low-income and Medicare patients. More information on the application process and instructions for filing here.

The program is limited to nonprofit and public eligible health care providers:

  • Post-secondary educational institutions offering health care instruction, teaching hospitals, and medical schools.
  • Community health centers or health centers providing health care to migrants.
  • Local health departments or agencies.
  • Community mental health centers.
  • Not-for-profit hospitals.
  • Rural health clinics.
  • Skilled nursing facilities.
  • Consortia of health care providers consisting of one or more entities falling into the first seven categories.

The FCC will award support to eligible applicants based on the estimated costs of the supported services and connected devices they intend to purchase (does not anticipate awarding more than $1 million to any single applicant).

The FCC also made several regulatory announcements on existing telehealth support: The FCC waived gift rules in the Rural Health Care and E-Rate Programs to make it easier for broadband providers to support telehealth and remote learning efforts during the pandemic. The waiver will allow health care providers, schools, and libraries to accept improved capacity, Wi-Fi hotspots, networking gea, or other equipment or services to support doctors and patients, teachers and students, and librarians and patrons during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The FCC announced that it would fully fund all eligible Rural Health Care Program services for the current funding year with an additional $42.19 million.

FCC Connected Care Pilot Program

The FCC Connected Care Pilot Program provides $100m in funding over a three-year period to enhance telehealth capacity for low-income and veteran patients. The program is available to individual providers and medical groups. Click here for more information.

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