The most recent COVID-19 relief bill that was signed into law in December includes $250 million in new funding for the federal COVID-19 Telehealth Program, previously discussed here. The program was originally established in March, at the beginning of the pandemic, to help expand connectivity among patients and providers across the country. Telehealth has played a vital role in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic by allowing patients to receive high-quality care from their homes or other remote locations and avoiding the risks of exposure to COVID-19 during in-person visits at a medical office.
The COVID-19 Telehealth Program, administered by the Federal Communications Commission, previously approved funding for more than 500 applicants across 47 states, plus Washington D.C. and Guam. Under the program, healthcare providers could apply for reimbursement for certain costs incurred to establish telehealth and remote patient monitoring services for COVID-19, including the cost of telehealth equipment. The program stopped operations in July when it exhausted its original $200 million budget, but will now be reactivated with the new $250 million in funding.
The relief bill also includes increased federal oversight of the program to ensure that funds are properly distributed to applicants that meet eligibility requirements. One of the requirements is that at least one applicant in each state receives funding, unless there are no eligible applicants from any given state.