On March 29, 2021, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unanimously approved the process for distributing $249.95 million in additional funding to healthcare providers to help cover the costs of telecommunication services and connected devices during the COVID-19 pandemic (Round Two). The money was appropriated by Congress in December 2020, as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, with the FCC now approving the process for distribution which will employ a single application deadline for all new applicants.
The Round Two funding follows an initial $200 million that was appropriated by Congress as part of the CARES Act in April 2020 (Round One). The Round One funding was awarded to 539 applicants between April 16 and July 8, 2020. The Round One application and distribution process proceeded on a rolling basis whereas the Round Two distribution process will use a single application deadline so that all the applications can be evaluated together before funding decisions are made. The FCC directed the Bureau to issue a public notice announcing the opening and closing dates of the Round Two application filing window as soon as possible.
The FCC report states that Round Two applications must contain, at a minimum, the following information:
- The name, physical address, county, and the healthcare provider number, for the lead health care provider seeking funding from the COVID-19 Telehealth Program application;
- Contact information for the individual who will be responsible for the application (telephone number, mailing address, and email address), as well as the contact information for the project manager;
- A list of the telecommunications services, information services, or connected “devices necessary to enable the provision of telehealth services” requested, the cost for each service or connected device, and the total amount of funding requested; and
- Supporting documentation for the costs indicated in the application, such as a vendor or service provider quote, invoice, or similar information.
The Round Two distribution program will be administered by Universal Service Administration Company, with oversight by the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau and the Office of Managing Director.
A copy of the FCC Report and Order on Reconsideration addressing this matter can be found here.