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FCC Announces New COVID-19 Telehealth Program Awards

Analysis  |  By Eric Wicklund  
   November 10, 2021

The Federal Communications Commission is issuing awards to 75 healthcare organizations through the COVID-19 Telehealth Program, which helps providers in launching or expanding telehealth platforms to address healthcare access issues cauded by the pandemic.

The Federal Communications Commission has announced 75 more awards to help healthcare providers use telehealth technology to address healthcare needs during the pandemic.

The FCC announced the fourth round of awards from the COVID-19 Telehealth Program, which was originally launched in 2020 to help providers acquire telecommunications services, information services, and connected devices to improve access to care. The agency had been given $200 million in 2020, ran out of money in the middle of the year, and was given roughly $250 million from the Consolidated Appropriations Act at the end of 2020 to continue the program this year.

With this week's announcement, roughly $166 million has been awarded to 280 programs, with at least one program in every state and territory and the District of Columbia receiving funding. The FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau will now give the remaining applicants time to revise their applications before choosing more awards.

"Advances in telehealth continue to help bridge the gap in health care for our most vulnerable populations and keep Americans connected with their doctors, nurses, and health care providers in the face of the pandemic," Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a press release accompanying the third round of awards announced last month. "With today's announcement, the FCC has approved more than $123 million in applications for Round 2 of its COVID-19 Telehealth Program—nearly half of the amount allotted in the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act. We remain committed to helping facilitate even more innovative health care efforts in every corner of our country."

The program is designed to reimburse healthcare providers for certain expenses tied to expanding connected health platforms during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and to help underserved populations access care through technology. Providers are required to submit detailed invoices to qualify for reimbursement.

The program runs alongside the FCC's Connected Care Pilot Program, a separate, $100 million effort to use technology to improve access to care for underserved populations, especially veterans and those in rural regions. The FCC had announced a third round of awards in late October.

Eric Wicklund is the associate content manager and senior editor for Innovation, Technology, and Pharma for HealthLeaders.

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