The $300M FCC Telehealth Funding brings short-term relief and long-term opportunity. On April 13, 2020 The FCC opens applications for Telehealth funds: Apply Here
Legislators signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 27, 2020 in response to COVID-19. It provides numerous funding opportunities for healthcare providers for information technology and telehealth. This includes $200 million for the Federal Communications Committee (FCC) to fund telehealth investments.
On April 2, 2020 the FCC published a Report and Order titled “Promoting Telehealth for Low-Income Consumers; COVID-19 Telehealth Program.” In the report, the FCC details its COVID-19 Telehealth Program and fast-track funding. Additionally, this report talks about the separate FCC Connected Care Pilot Program. The Program reserves $200 million for long-term connected care projects like remote monitoring, patient education and video visits.
Thus, this perspective reviews these FCC programs and outlines how providers can apply for telehealth technology and services funding.
The FCC Telehealth Funding Program for COVID-19
- The CARES Act gives $200 million for providers to get receive services and devices for connected care during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Connected care services cover video calls, teaching patients about health, store and forward services, and remote monitoring devices connected to providers.
- Open to eligible healthcare providers, regardless of geography
- Targeted at healthcare providers likely to be most in need of funding. This includes the following:
- Post-secondary educational institutions offering healthcare instruction, teaching hospitals and medical schools
- Community health centers or health centers providing health care to migrants
- Local health departments or agencies
- Community mental health centers; not-for-profit hospitals
- Rural health clinics
- Skilled nursing facilities
- Consortia of healthcare providers consisting of one or more entities in those categories.
- The FCC doesn’t expect to give over $1 million to any one applicant but allows healthcare providers to submit multiple applications.
- The FCC will take applications after OMB approval of COVID-19 Telehealth Program information is announced in the Federal Register. Applicants must use the “COVID-19 Telehealth Program Application and Request for Funding” form to apply using the Electronic Comment Filing system under WC Docket No. 20-89.
- Program applicants must be deemed eligible by Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). If needed applicants can complete FCC Form 460 for USAC eligibility determination.
- Providers can still submit applications for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program while their request is pending with USAC.
- The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau will review Program applications, select participants and make funding awards on a rolling basis. This will continue until the funds are exhausted or until the current pandemic has ended.
- The Program application requires, among other data:
- A description of how COVID-19 has impacted the organization
- A description of how the funds and technology would be used to support COVID-19 response
- Details on the telecommunications services, information services or devices needed and a vendor quote for those devices and services
- The Program application and invoicing process is being streamlined in many ways:
- Competitive bidding for the eligible services or devices is not required
- Fast-tracking invoicing and reimbursement for services and devices
- Will not prohibit participating providers from receiving gifts or things of value from service providers valued at over $20. For example, this includes devices, equipment, free upgrades and more.
The FCC’s Connected Care Pilot Program
- The Pilot Program sets aside $100 million from the USF for three years to support projects, covering up to 85% of costs like patient internet, provider connections, connected care services and equipment.
- Connected care technology and services include video visits, patient education, store and forward services and remote monitoring devices linked to providers.
- The Pilot Program allows healthcare providers to design projects, choose vendors, and enroll qualifying patients.
- The FCC prefers providers with telehealth experience or partnerships with experienced healthcare providers, agencies or telehealth resource centers.
- The Pilot Program helps low-income Americans, veterans, and people with public health problems like opioid addiction, mental health, high-risk pregnancies and ongoing conditions.
- The FCC did not set a limit on the number of projects selected for the Pilot Program.
- The deadline to apply is 45 days from when the rules start or 120 days from the report’s release on April 2, 2020, whichever is later.
- The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) deems which Program applicants are eligible. In addition, applicants can complete FCC Form 460 for USAC eligibility determination if needed.
- To join the Pilot Program, a provider must send an application to the FCC. Providers need to describe their proposed project and how it will use connected care services to address patients’ health needs.
- The FCC will announce selected pilot projects and rationale for selecting the projects. Additionally, it will provide further information on the requirements for the Pilot Program. This includes the requirements for requesting funding, invoicing, data reporting and programmatic safeguards including document retention and audit requirements.
The information provided here is current as of 4/13/20. Please contact our Telehealth specialists at 800-381-9681 or firstname.lastname@example.org for updates or questions.
Learn how to apply for the FCC Telehealth funding in our Pivot Point Perspective.