The FCC has approved initial funding for 62 applications in the second round of the COVID-19 Telehealth Program. The initial approvals total $41.98 million.
The program supports healthcare providers and their patients by providing reimbursement for telecommunications services, information services and connected devices needed for telehealth during the pandemic.
Round 2 of the program has a budget of $249.95 million. The first funding announcement satisfies an equitable distribution step set by Congress and outlined in the FCC rules. It requires funding of the highest-scoring applications in every state, territory and the District of Columbia plus the second highest-scoring application from the states and territories that did not receive funding in Round 1.
The next step will commit funding to the high scoring applications regardless of where they are. That criteria will be used until $150 million has been committed. At that point, the FCC Wireline Competition Bureau will announce an opportunity for remaining applicants to supplement their submissions. At that point, final program funding will be determined and announced.
The first group of approvals in round 2 included many that are very close to $1 million, with three reaching that number. Those were made to MCR Health, Inc. in Palmetto, FL, Mercy Health System in Rockford, IL and St. Luke’s Hospital in New Bedford, MA.
“The FCC took action earlier this year to establish a system for rating applications in Round 2, factoring in the hardest hit and lowest-income areas, Tribal communities, and previously unfunded states and territories,” FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a press release. about the COVID-19 telehealth second round awards. “Now even more doctors and nurses in every corner of our country can establish or expand telehealth services to support patients and their families.”
The FCC detailed the way forward for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program in April. The application period ran from April 29 to May 6. It built on the $200 million first round. The program was established in the CARES Act, which was signed into law in March, 2020.