FCC Establishes COVID-19 Telehealth Program

Topics: Federal News,

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released a Public Notice establishing the COVID-19 Telehealth Program, authorized by the CARES Act.  The COVID-19 Telehealth Program will provide $200 million in funding to help health care providers provide connected care services to patients at their homes or mobile locations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 Telehealth Program will provide immediate support to eligible

health care providers by fully funding their telecommunications services, information services, and devices necessary to provide critical connected care services until the program’s funds have been expended or the COVID -19 pandemic has ended. The FCC does not anticipate awarding more than $1 million to any single applicant.

Examples of services and devices that COVID-19 Telehealth Program applicants may seek funding for include:

  • Telecommunications Services and Broadband Connectivity Services: Voice services, and Internet connectivity services for health care providers or their patients.
  • Information Services: Remote patient monitoring platforms and services; patient-reported outcome platforms; store and forward services, such as asynchronous transfer of patient images and data for interpretation by a physician; platforms and services to provide synchronous video consultation.
  • Internet Connected Devices/Equipment: tablets, smart phones, or connected devices to receive connected care services at home (e.g., broadband enabled blood pressure monitors; pulse-ox) for patient or health care provider use; telemedicine kiosks/carts for health care provider site.

The funding can be applied to eligible services purchased on or after March 13, 2020.

In addition, COVID-19 Telehealth Program support will be available to eligible health care providers for services that require monthly recurring charges.

Health care provider sites that have already been deemed eligible to participate in the FCC’s existing Rural Health Care (RHC) Programs may rely on that eligibility

determination for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program, but other potential applicants can obtain an eligibility determination from the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). The Public Notice provides guidance on actions applicants can begin to take to ready themselves for filing an application for COVID19 Telehealth Program funding.

FMI: The Public Notice is available at https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DA-20-394A1.pdf.