The Federal Communications Commission voted to adopt a $200 million telehealth program to support healthcare providers responding to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The agency will accept applications from eligible health care providers in Puerto Rico, this media outlet confirmed.
U.S. Congress appropriated the funds as part of the CARES Act, the agency said.
Through the COVID-19 Telehealth Program, the FCC will help healthcare providers purchase telecommunications, broadband connectivity, and devices necessary for providing telehealth services. Funding applications from healthcare providers will be processed on a rolling basis, the FCC confirmed.
“Our nation’s healthcare providers need us more than ever, and we at the FCC are answering the call,” FCC Chair Ajit Pai said.
“With the adoption of the $200 million COVID-19 Telehealth Program, the FCC can now take immediate steps to provide funding so that more patients can be treated at home, freeing up valuable hospital beds for those who most need them and reducing the risk of exposure to the virus,” he added.
The FCC also adopted final rules to stand up a Connected Care Pilot Program. This separate three-year Pilot Program will provide up to $100 million of support from the Universal Service Fund to help defray health care providers’ costs of providing connected care services and to help assess how the USF can be used in the long-term to support telehealth.
“The new Connected Care Pilot Program will help us to look to the future and determine how universal service support can shepherd telehealth services into a new era of healthcare delivery.” Pai said.
“I’d like to thank my colleagues at the FCC for voting expeditiously to adopt these two programs. More than ever, we need to work together to address the needs of the American people in the face of this increasingly challenging time,” he added.