Unanimous Vote Creates Rules and Procedures to Move Forward with Round 2 of Program to Support Health Care Providers During the Pandemic
On March 30, 2021, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to formally adopt a Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration to establish Round 2 of the COVID-19 Telehealth Program, a $249.95 million federal initiative that builds on the $200 million program established as part of the CARES Act. The FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program supports the efforts of health care providers to continue serving their patients by providing telecommunications services, information services, and connected devices necessary to enable telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic. The application window is expected to open within 30 days of release of the Order and the FCC will provide notice in advance of that date.
“Today the FCC announced it is moving forward with Round 2 of its COVID-19 Telehealth Program. This past year has proven, without a doubt, that telehealth technology is critical to helping address inequities in access to health care services. And with today’s unanimous approval of the Report and Order, the FCC remains ready to address these challenges head on.
“As part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, Congress called on the FCC to increase transparency of the FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program and to establish a clear set of rules and guidelines for evaluating applications. With today’s action, we have answered that call. The pandemic has affected communities both large and small throughout the country, from our urban centers to our most rural corners. Round 2 of this program will mirror this far-reaching impact to better ensure that each state and territory can be approved for funding. In addition, to facilitate a more equitable funding window, we will set an application deadline so that all applications can be evaluated collectively. By working together, we can continue to make an impact on the health and well-being of all Americans now and well into the future,” said Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.
In January 2021, as directed by Congress in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau sought public input on Round 2. This Report & Order establishes a clear way to rate applications that takes into consideration objective factors about the health care provider and the area it serves. Round 2 will also distribute funding to each state, territory, and the District of Columbia and will have an application filing window so all applicants are on equal footing during the review. Finally, applicants will be able to provide additional information to supplement their applications if necessary.
For more information about the FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth program, visit https://www.fcc.gov/covid19telehealth.