In the aftermath of CMS approving waivers and flexibilities related to Telehealth usage in healthcare institutions, the Federal Communications Commission voted to adopt a $200 million telehealth program to support healthcare providers responding to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. For the FCC’s order, click here.
“Despite the numerous benefits of connected care services to patients and health care providers alike, patients who cannot afford or who otherwise lack reliable, robust broadband Internet access connectivity, including many low-income Americans and veterans, are not realizing the benefits of these innovative telehealth technologies.”
The adoption of this program comes to light as a portion of the funds from the CARES Act approved by Congress. As with other programs available currently, this is awarded on a first come first serve basis, with only $200 million total available to be awarded, not to exceed $1 million per award.
“The support provided through the COVID-19 Telehealth Program will help eligible health care providers purchase telecommunications services, information services, and devices necessary to provide critical connected care services, whether for treatment of coronavirus or other health conditions during the coronavirus pandemic”
The program will fund “estimated” costs of the supported services and “connected” devices applicants intend to purchase. To improve flexibility to respond to changing circumstances during the pandemic, the applicants may also use awarded support to purchase any necessary eligible services and connected devices. In addition, applicants that have exhausted initially awarded funding may request additional support.
The order defines an eligible health care provider as:
‘(B) HEALTH CARE PROVIDER —The term ‘health care provider’ means—
‘‘(i) post-secondary educational institutions offering health care instruction, teaching hospitals, and medical schools;”
‘‘(ii) community health centers or health centers providing health care to migrants;”
‘‘(iii) local health departments or agencies;”
‘‘(iv) community mental health centers;”
‘‘(v) not-for-profit hospitals;‘‘
“(vi) rural health clinics;”
“(vii) skilled nursing facilities;” or
‘‘(vii) consortia of health care providers consisting of one or more entities falling into the first seven categories.”
*Note, while this doesn’t specifically define home care providers, these providers still may qualify if they fall in bullet eight (8).
There is an application process for this, and the FCC has stated a strong interest in targeting areas hardest hit by COVID.
For questions, please contact:
FCC User Guide for filings: https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/user-guide/ECFS-3.0-User-Guide.pdf