On November 5, 2020, the FCC announced the application filing window for the Connected Care Pilot Program would open November 6th — and close December 7th, 2020. This is a very small window of time for a complex application for a long–awaited program (initially announced in March 2020). Eligible parties must move quickly to capitalize on this opportunity. This Pivot Point Perspective is intended to provide helpful information to expedite the process.
Background on the Pilot Program can be found in this Pivot Point Perspective. In brief:
- The Pilot Program will make available up to $100 million over three years for selected projects to provide connected care services, with an emphasis on providing those services to low-income and veteran patients.
- Selected pilot projects will receive universal service support to offset 85% of qualifying costs incurred in connection with the Pilot Program.
Pilot Program Eligibility Requirements
Consistent with the FCC COVID-19 Telehealth Program, the Pilot Program is open to eligible non-profit or public healthcare providers within the categories in section 254(h)(7)(B) of the Telecommunications Act. Additional eligibility requirements include:
- Applicants must have an approved FCC Form 460 (Eligibility and Registration Form) to access the application
- All sites in the proposed pilot project must be approved as eligible — for organizations with multiple locations, each must be approved as eligible
- Organizations already eligible for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program or the Rural Healthcare Program can apply without an FCC Form 460 eligibility determination, and an award in these programs does not preclude award in the Pilot Program
Pilot Program Scope
The Pilot Program’s focus is on broadband access and connectivity to support telehealth. The FCC Public Notice provides a useful detailed table.
Applying for the Connected Care Pilot Program
As noted, the application is complex and the FCC urges applicants to begin the process early and / or seek outside expert assistance. The very short application window serves to heighten the urgency.
The application is located on the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) website and requires the credentials provided upon Form 460 eligibility determination.
Provider applicants must clearly and concisely articulate how the funds will be used to meet the healthcare needs of target patient populations, as well as itemize the equipment and services for which support is being requested.
If selected, awardees, must seek competitive bids for the proposed equipment and services and develop scoring criteria to evaluate those bids. The bids must be posted on USAC.org. Awardees are responsible for selecting the most cost-effective equipment and services and submitting the supporting selection rationale and documentation to the FCC. They are also responsible for following FCC processes, including use of Form 463 for invoicing and payment.
With the complexity of the application process and the December 7th deadline for the award of $100M, providers should consider engaging subject matter expert services to
- Assist in determining program eligibility and guide the application process
- Assist in evaluating equipment and services eligibility and establishing vendor scoring criteria / managing vendor evaluation and supporting documentation
- Establish sustainable processes for FCC invoicing and documentation management