Pivot Point Perspective: Apply for FCC Telehealth Funding Today

Telehealth Billing

The FCC’s $300M in Telehealth Funding brings short-term relief and long-term opportunity. Learn how to apply in our Pivot Point Perspective.

Update: On April 13, 2020 The FCC opens applications for Telehealth funds: Apply Here

Update: On April 8, 2020 the FCC issued guidance on the application process, available here.

How to Apply for FCC Telehealth Funding

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In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020. It provides numerous funding opportunities for healthcare providers for information technology and telehealth, including $200 million for the Federal Communications Committee (FCC) to fund telehealth investments.

As a follow-up to that action, on April 2, 2020 the FCC published a Report and Order titled “Promoting Telehealth for Low-Income Consumers; COVID-19 Telehealth Program” which details the FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program and its fast-track funding. This Report and Order also covers the distinct and separate FCC Connected Care Pilot Program which has also appropriated $200 million for longer-term innovation on connected care services including remote patient monitoring, patient health education, store and forward services and video consultations and visits.

This Pivot Point Perspective reviews these two FCC programs and outlines how eligible providers can apply for funding to support telehealth technology and services. Funding will be awarded on a rolling basis until funds are exhausted or the public health emergency ends.

The FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program.

WHAT:

  • $200 million, as appropriated in the CARES Act, for providers to purchase telecommunications services, information services and devices necessary to provide critical connected care services, during and in response to the coronavirus pandemic. It is important to note the Program is not limited patients being treated for COVID-19. Rather, program funds must be used “to prevent, prepare for and respond to coronavirus.”
  • Connected care technologies and services covered include those that enable: video consultations and visits, patient health education, store and forward services and remote monitoring devices connected back to the provider systems. Standalone monitoring devices are not covered.

WHO:

  • Open to eligible healthcare providers, regardless of geography
  • Targeted at healthcare providers likely to be most in need of funding, including (1) post-secondary educational institutions offering healthcare instruction, teaching hospitals,and medical schools; (2) community health centers or health centers providing health care to migrants; (3) local health departments or agencies; (4) community mental health centers; (5) not-for-profit hospitals; (6) rural health clinics; (7) skilled nursing facilities; or (8) consortia of healthcare providers consisting of one or more entities in those categories.

HOW:

  • The FCC but does not anticipate awarding more than $1 million to any single applicant, but allows for a healthcare provider to complete additional applications.
  • The FCC will begin accepting applications once it receives notice of OMB’s approval of the COVID-19 Telehealth Program information collection requirements in the Federal Register. It will provide an application form titled “COVID-19 Telehealth Program Application and Request for Funding” that applicants must use when submitting their applications to the FCC through its Electronic Comment Filing system under WC Docket No. 20-89. COVID-19 Telehealth Program Application and Request for Funding.
  • 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 until the funds are exhausted or until the current pandemic has ended.
  • The Program application requires, among other data:
    • A description of how the organization has been impacted by COVID-19
    • A description of how the funds / 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
    • Invoicing and reimbursement for services and devices will be streamlined and fast-tracked
    • Will not prohibit participating providers from receiving gifts or things of value from service providers valued at over $20, including, devices, equipment, free upgrades, etc.

The FCC’s Connected Care Pilot Program

WHAT: 

  • The Pilot Program will provide up to $100 million from the Universal Service Fund (USF) over a three-year period to fund selected pilot projects up to 85% of the eligible costs of (1) patient broadband Internet access services, (2) healthcare provider broadband data connections, (3) other connected care information services and (4) certain network equipment.
  • Connected care technologies and services covered include those that enable video consultations and visits, patient health education, store and forward services and remote monitoring devices connected back to the providers systems. Standalone monitoring devices are not covered.
  • The Pilot Program is designed to be driven by healthcare providers who design their proposed pilot projects, select the vendors for the services and network equipment and identify and enroll the qualifying participating patients.

WHO:

  • The FCC noted a strong preference for providers that have either experience with providing telehealth or connected care services to patients or have partnership with another health care provider, government agency or designated telehealth resource center with such experience.
  • The Pilot Program is geared towards services for low income Americans and veterans and on treating public health epidemics, including opioid dependency, mental health conditions, high-risk pregnancy, or chronic or recurring conditions.
  • The FCC did not set a limit on the number of projects selected for the Pilot Program.

HOW:

  • The deadline for filing applications for the Pilot Program will be 45 days from the effective date of the Pilot Program rules or 120 days from the April 2, 2020 release date of this Report and Order, whichever is later.
  • Program applicants must be deemed eligible by Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). If needed applicants can complete FCC Form 460 for USAC eligibility determination.
  • To participate in the Pilot Program, a provider will submit an application to the FCC describing, among other things, its proposed pilot project and how the pilot project will use connected care services to serve the health care needs of participating patients.
  • The FCC will announce selected pilot projects and rationale for selecting the projects. It will provide further information on the requirements for the Pilot Program, including, but not limited to, 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 letschat@pivotpointconsulting.com for updates or questions.

See more of our Rapid Response COVID-19 resources and solutions.

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