FCC Taps Out Telehealth Fund, Chairman Likes Program Flexibility

While the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced last week that it awarded the final $10 million under its $200 million COVID-19 Telehealth Program authorized by the CARES Act, FCC Chairman Ajit Pail talked today about the success of the program, and expressed hope that lawmakers authorize similar programs in the future that will allow the commission to distribute funding quickly.

In total, the Telehealth Program distributed $200 million of CARES Act funding to 539 applicants in 47 states plus the District of Columbia and Guam to provide telehealth services during the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking today during an event organized by Axios, Chairman Pai said that the financial awards were having a “huge impact” on the ability of healthcare institutions to extend telehealth services.

He emphasized that the FCC has the ability to “execute very quickly” on funding programs that Congress authorizes outside of the longer-standing but more bureaucratic communications funding programs that the commission already operates. Some of the existing programs, Pai said, “have a lot of administrative hoops that we have to jump through.” He hopes lawmakers will consider other programs for the FCC and other Federal agencies that give them the flexibility to take actions more quickly.

“Hopefully we will see telehealth more streamlined in the future,” Pai said.

Jordan Smith
About Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.

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