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                                                                                           Updated July 8, 2020

FCC COVID-19 Telehealth Program and Connected Care Pilot

Program: Funding to Assist Health Care Providers and Patients


Health care providers are leveraging telehealth, which
generally refers to a health care provider's use of
information and communication technology to provide a
health care service, to meet patients' health care needs
during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
pandemic. However, some providers do not have the
infrastructure to offer, nor do some patients have the
broadband access or connected devices to access, telehealth
services. To address these gaps, the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) is administering the
COVID-19 Telehealth Program and the Connected Care
Pilot Program. The goal of both programs is to assist health
care providers with providing connected care services,
which the FCC refers to as a subset of telehealth that uses
broadband internet access service-enabled technologies to
deliver remote medical, diagnostic, patient-centered, and
treatment-related services directly to patients outside of
traditional brick and mortar medical facilities including
specifically to patients at their mobile location or residence
(https://go.usa.gov/xvGG8).

The FCC is an independent federal regulatory agency
charged with regulating interstate and international
communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and
cable. On April 2, 2020, the FCC released the Report and
Order on both programs (https://go.usa.gov/xv79v), which
was subsequently published on April 9, 2020, as a final rule
in the Federal Register (https://go.usa.gov/xvGGe). This In
Focus provides an overview of both programs.

    Eligible Applicants for the COVID-19 Telehealth
    Program and the Connected Care Pilot Program
Under both programs, eligible applicants are limited to the
nonprofit and public health care providers codified in
Section 254(h)(7)(B) of the Communications Act of 1934,
as amended: (1) post-secondary educational institutions
offering health care 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; and (8) consortia of health care
providers consisting of one or more entities falling into the
first seven categories. Eligible health care providers may be
located in rural and nonrural areas. Each health care
provider must have an eligibility determination from the
Universal Service Administration Company (USAC),
which is an independent not-for-profit corporation that
administers universal service funds, to receive funding.


0verview o       t e COVi D - 19

The COVID-19 Telehealth Program is a temporary funding
program that supports health care providers with purchasing
telecommunication services, information services, and
connected devices to combat the pandemic. The overall
goal of the program is to help health care providers reach
their patients and to complement the Department of Health
and Human Services' (HHS's) temporary expansion of
telehealth. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic
Security (CARES) Act (P.L. 116-136) authorizes this
program.

The CARES Act, among other things, authorized an
appropriation of $200 million for FCC to prevent, prepare
for, and respond to coronavirus. Using the appropriation,
the FCC established the COVID-19 Telehealth Program.
Program funds are to remain available until expended or
until the current pandemic ends.


On April 13, 2020, the Wireline Competition Bureau (the
Bureau), the organization responsible for the selection of
awardees and distribution of funding, started accepting
applications. By June 24, 2020, according to the Bureau,
the COVID-19 Telehealth Program had approved over 400
applications, for a total of $157.64 million in funding
(https://go.usa.gov/xfaca). On June 25, 2020, the Bureau
announced it was no longer accepting applications because
the demand for funding exceeded available funds. The
maximum award amount was $1 million
(https://go.usa.gov/xfaxb). The Bureau will use remaining
funds to fund selected qualifying costs in applications
submitted before the close date.
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Health care providers requested funding for
telecommunication and broadband connectivity services,
information services, and connected devices and equipment.

* Telecommunication and broadband connectivity
   services include voice services for health care providers
   and their patients.

* Information services include internet connectivity
   services for health care providers and their patients,
   asynchronous store-and-forward and synchronous live
   video platforms, and patient reported outcome
   platforms.

* Connected devices and equipment include tablets,
   smartphones, kiosks, and carts at health care provider
   sites, and broadband-enabled medical devices that


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