Applications Open for $200 Million COVID-19 Telehealth Program

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As a follow up to our legal alert posted on April 7, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") announced that it is accepting applications for its $200 million COVID-19 Telehealth Program as of April 13, 2020. As a reminder, the COVID-19 Telehealth Program is a first come, first serve program, so interested health care providers should considering submitting applications through the FCC’s Program webpage as soon as possible.

The FCC has identified examples of the types of equipment and services eligible for funding under the COVID-19 Telehealth Program, including:

  • Telecommunications services and broadband connectivity services, which includes voice services and Internet connectivity services for health care providers or their patients.
  • Information services, which includes:
    • Remote patient monitoring platforms and services;
    • Patient-reported outcome platforms;
    • Store and forward services, such as asynchronous transfer of patient images and data for interpretation by a physician; and
    • Platforms and services to provide synchronous video consultation. 
  • Internet-connected devices and equipment, which includes:
    • Tablets;
    • Smartphones;
    • Connected devices necessary to receive services at home (e.g., broadband-enabled blood pressure monitoring devices) for patients or health care provider use; and
    • Telemedicine kiosks, carts for the health care provider site.

Importantly, purchases made on or after March 13, 2020 are eligible for funding.

In a public notice dated April 8, 2020, the FCC identified three steps that interested health care providers should take to prepare for the application process: (1) obtain an eligibility determination from the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) by submitting an FCC Form 460; (2) obtain an FCC Registration Number (FRN) by registering in the Commission Registration System (CORES); and (3) register with System for Award Management. The FCC has specifically stated that “Applicants that do not yet have an eligibility determination from USAC can still nonetheless file an application with the Commission for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program while their FCC Form 460 is pending with USAC.” Applicants who have not yet submitted their FCC Form 460 for determination of program eligibility by USAC should be prepared to provide certain biographical information about the applicant entity.

To assist applicants, the FCC has also released a COVID-19 Telehealth Program filing guide, which offers advice on the application process, and instructions for what information the applicant needs to provide. Such information includes, but is not limited to: biographical information about the applicant; information regarding the medical services to be provided with the funding and conditions to be treated using the funding; information regarding the equipment and services that applicants will employ with the funds; and supporting documentation for all the items enumerated above. Specific questions about the application should be directed to TelehealthApplicationSupport@fcc.gov or EmergencyTelehealthSupport@fcc.gov.

Although there is little additional guidance from the FCC on what requests they will approve, and uncertainty about selection and provision of COVID-19 Telehealth Program funds, we will continue to monitor and update FCC guidance as it becomes available.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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