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The application window for the FCC Connected Care Pilot Program will open tomorrow, November 6th at 12 PM ET.

The application window for the program, which will support health care providers with as much as $100 million from the Universal Service Fund (USF) over a three-year period, will remain open through December 7, 2020 at 11:59 PM.

Rules for the program were adopted on March 31. Although rural areas are a key focus, the program is available to non-profit and public eligible health care providers anywhere in the United States. The Public Notice provides information about the process, prerequisites for application submission and provides examples.

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Funding can be used for patient broadband internet access services, health care provider broadband data connections, other connected care information services and certain network equipment but not end-user devices.

“In the past year, connectivity has become an increasingly critical component of delivering health care services in our country,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a press release. “Spearheaded by Commissioner Carr, our Connected Care Pilot Program explores how universal service support can provide next-level health care to our nation’s most vulnerable populations, including low income Americans and veterans. With the opening of this application window, the FCC affirms its commitment to driving the future of health care delivery and supporting innovative pilot projects across the country.”

Though it sounds like many other programs whose roots are in the COVID-19 pandemic, the program predates the crisis. In July, 2018, the FCC said it would seek $100 million to support telehealth for low income Americans, with an emphasis on veterans and residents of rural areas.

In July 2019, an FCC press release in anticipation of a vote on the NPRM laid out the FCC Connected Care Pilot program goals in detail. The release identified four keys:

  • The program would provide $100 million in USF support for health care providers to defray the qualifying costs of connected care services for low-income patients, including people in medically underserved areas and veterans.
  • It would support innovative pilot projects to respond to various health challenges.
  • It would provide an 85% discount on qualifying services for a three-year period. Controls will be in place to measure and verify the benefits, costs, and savings associated with connected care technologies.
  • It would collect relevant data to enable stakeholders to better understand the impact of telehealth and consider broader reforms that can support the trend toward connected care.

Joan Engebretson contributed to this report.

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