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Telemedicine Reimbursement

FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program Reboots in 2 Weeks

By News

The Federal Communications Commission will accept applications for the second round of the COVID-19 Telehealth Program from April 29 to May 6.

By Eric Wicklund

April 16, 2021 – Healthcare providers interested in taking part in the Federal Communications Commission’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program will have seven days to submit applications, beginning on April 29.

The FCC made the announcement on Thursday, setting the stage for a second round of funding for projects aimed at boosting access to connected health services during the coronavirus pandemic through better broadband resources.

“For over a year, health care providers have fought on the front lines of this pandemic and have had to rapidly innovate to support the health and well-being of all Americans,” Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a press release. “Telehealth has been at the forefront of this effort and I’m pleased to announce that additional support is just around the corner.”
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“The FCC is dedicated to moving quickly to review and approve applications for this funding to support health care providers and patients across the country,” she added.

Congress appropriated $200 million in the CARES Act to launch the program in 2020 through the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau. FCC issued awards to 539 applicants before running out of money in July, but was criticized in some corners for a lack of transparency in the program.

Another $249.95 million was set aside in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 to create a second round. At the same time, FCC officials revised the application and award process.

  • It will establish a system for rating applicants, with more attention paid to hardest-hit and low-income areas as well as projects that failed to gain approval in the first round, those in healthcare provider shortage areas and Tribal communities.
  • It will ensure “equitable nationwide distribution of funding so that each state, territory, and the District of Columbia will receive funding since the program’s inception.” Last year’s program funded projects in 47 states, Washington DC and Guam but sent no money to Hawaii, Alaska or Montana.
  • It will set a deadline for applications, rather than reviewing programs as they are submitted, so that all projects can be reviewed at the same time.
  • It will award funding in two phases, so that approved projects can be funded quickly and the rest have an opportunity to provide more information to qualify for the second phase.

The filing window will run from Thursday, April 29 to Thursday, May 6.

The money is designated for “telecommunications services, information services, and connected devices necessary to enable telehealth during the COVID19 pandemic.”

The COVID-19 Telehealth Program isn’t a grant program, but a reimbursement program. To receive disbursements, healthcare providers are required to submit an invoicing form and supporting documentation to receive reimbursement for eligible telemedicine and mHealth expenses and services.