UPDATE The FCC voted to adopt a $200 million telehealth program last week to support healthcare providers responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Congress appropriated the funds as part of the CARES Act. Through the COVID-19 Telehealth Program, the Commission will help healthcare providers purchase telecommunications, broadband connectivity, and devices necessary for providing telehealth services. Funding applications from healthcare providers will be processed on a rolling basis.
The FCC also adopted final rules to stand up a Connected Care Pilot Program. This separate three-year Pilot Program will allocate up to $100 million of support from the Universal Service Fund to help defray healthcare providers’ costs for connected care services and to assess how the USF can be used in the long-term to support telehealth.
“With the adoption of the $200 million COVID-19 Telehealth Program, the FCC can now take immediate steps to provide funding so that more patients can be treated at home, freeing up valuable hospital beds for those who most need them and reducing the risk of exposure to the virus,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. He said the new Connected Care Pilot Program will help the agency look to the future, “and determine how universal service support can shepherd telehealth services into a new era of healthcare delivery.”