New bill proposes $400M more for FCC's coronavirus telehealth program

U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, introduced a bill Aug. 6 that would allocate $400 million to restart the FCC's COVID-19 telehealth program.

The Accelerating Connected Care and Education Support Services on the Internet Act aims to expand broadband internet access for telehealth and education across rural America during the pandemic.

A $400 million portion of the $2 billion proposed through the ACCESS the Internet Act will support the FCC's coronavirus telehealth program, which the agency launched in April under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. Between April and July, the FCC approved 539 applications totaling $200 million to healthcare providers to help with telehealth technology and implementation support.

The new bill would set aside 20 percent of funding for small, rural providers that may have been left out of initial rounds. It would also devote $100 million to the Department of Veterans Affairs to support telehealth expansion for veterans in rural and underserved areas.

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