FCC proposes $200M COVID-19 program to equip providers for telehealth

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has unveiled a plan for a COVID-19 telehealth program that would allocate $200 million to support healthcare providers' use of telehealth services during the pandemic. 

The program is part of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which President Donald Trump signed into law March 27. Under the CARES Act, Congress allotted $200 million to the Federal Communications Commission to support telehealth services. If the FCC adopts the program, it will help eligible healthcare providers buy telecommunications, broadband connectivity and devices needed to support telehealth. 

Mr. Pai also proposed a three-year Connected Care pilot program that would make up to $100 million available to providers focused on projects covering broadband connectivity, network equipment and information services to build interoperable care networks, primarily for low-income or veteran patients. The funds available through the program would be separate from the budgets of existing Universal Service Fund programs and the COVID-19 telehealth program. 

"As we self-isolate and engage in social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth will continue to become more and more important across the country," Mr. Pai said in a March 30 news release. "Our nation’s healthcare providers are under incredible, and still increasing, strain as they fight the pandemic. My plan for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program is a critical tool to address this national emergency." 

More articles on telehealth: 
Amwell names 2 new executives: 3 things to know
Mount Sinai, Brigham and Women's Hospital expand 'hospital at home' programs to include COVID-19 patients
UCSF completes 50% of visits virtually

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