The FCC will open an application window for the Connected Care Pilot Program today, November 6, at noon Eastern. Applications will be accepted for 30 days, through 11:59 p.m. Eastern on December 7. The Pilot Program will provide up to $100 million from the Universal Service Fund over three years to support connected care services.
“In the past year, connectivity has become an increasingly critical component of delivering health care services in our country,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. The Commission’s program explores how universal service support can provide next-level health care to the nation’s most vulnerable populations, including low-income Americans and veterans, according to Pai.
Commissioner Brendan Carr has been leading the FCC’s efforts to develop the program over the past two years. Concerning the window opening, he said: “This new initiative is the healthcare equivalent of shifting from Blockbuster to Netflix. With smartphones, tablets, and connected healthcare devices, patients no longer need to travel to brick-and-mortar facilities or meet in person with a doctor to receive high-quality care. When we first sought comment on expanding the FCC’s telehealth programs, we couldn’t have fully appreciated how important providing care at a distance would become.”
The Commission adopted rules for the Connected Care Pilot Program this March. The program is open to nonprofit and public eligible health care providers, located anywhere in the country. Specifically, it will use Universal Service Fund monies to help defray the costs of connected care services for eligible health care providers, providing support for 85 percent of the cost of eligible services and network equipment, which include: (1) patient broadband internet access services; (2) health care provider broadband data connections; (3) other connected care information services; and (4) certain network equipment. The program will not fund end-user devices.
On September 3, the FCC issued a Public Notice with guidance on program eligibility and information that applicants will be required to submit as part of their applications. An eligibility determination is required for each health care provider site that will be included in an application for the pilot program. Health care provider sites that the Universal Service Administrative Company has already deemed eligible to participate in the FCC’s Rural Health Care Program or COVID-19 Telehealth Program may be eligible for the pilot program.
The Commission will accept applications online through the Universal Service Administrative Company’s website. Additional information and updates will be posted on the Connected Care Pilot Program web page.
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