The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved $41.98 million for Round 2 of its COVID-19 Telehealth Program.
The funding, which is administered by the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau, will be used to reimburse healthcare providers for telecommunications services, information services, and connected devices necessary to enable telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Round 2 of the FCC’s telehealth funding program totals $249 million and builds on the initial $200 million program that was established as part of the CARES Act in 2020. In a press release, the FCC said that healthcare providers in each state, territory, and the District of Columbia, including those previously unfunded in Round 1, will receive some amount of the new funding round.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, access to health care has proven to be not only a national issue, but also a local issue, and it is imperative that every community is given the tools to access this care as safely and effectively as possible. The FCC is committed to ensuring that every state and territory in the United States receive funding as part of this program,” said FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.
“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. 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 said this first set of awards in Round 2 will go to applications that qualify for the equitable distribution step, as required by Congress and outlined in the FCC’s rules, to ensure nationwide distribution of funding to health care providers in each state, territory, and the District of Columbia. Under this step, the FCC will fund the highest-scoring applications in every locality, plus the second highest-scoring application from the states and territories that did not receive funding in Round 1, if multiple applications were submitted from those areas.
Providing a preview of Round 3 funding, the FCC said that funding will go towards the highest-scoring applications, regardless of geography, until at least $150 million has been committed. After completing Round 3, the Wireline Competition Bureau will announce an opportunity for all remaining applicants to supplement their applications, as required by Congress. After all remaining applicants have the opportunity to supplement their applications, the remaining program funding will be committed.