On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a public notice and press release regarding its Connected Care Pilot Program to provide additional information and guidance for potential program applicants. The Connected Care Pilot Program will give up to $100 million over a three-year period from the Universal Service Fund to assist the supplies of connected care telehealth services, in particular, helping to provide services for low income Americans and veterans.
The Connected Care Pilot Program is open to nonprofit and public eligible health care providers that fall within “health care provider” as defined in section 254(h)(7)(B) of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Providers can be located in rural and non-rural areas. Eligible providers must obtain and submit an FCC Form 460 with the Universal Service Administration Company (USAC) to receive a Health Care Provider (HCP) number and eligibility determination before a heath care provider can submit an application.
In order to apply, a provider needs an eligibility determination and an HCP number; however, if a health care provider states that USAC already deemed them eligible to participate in the FCC’s Rural Health Care Program or COVID-19 Telehealth Program, the provider can use that eligibility determination for this program. The program will use funding to “help defray costs of connected care services for eligible health care providers, providing universal service support for 85% of the cost of eligible services and network equipment.” The covered telehealth items include: “patient broadband Internet access services,” “health care provider broadband data connections,” “other connected care information services,” and “certain network equipment.” The program will not fund devices.
“This year, our country has pivoted to a newer model of delivering health care, one that finds connectivity at its core, and the FCC has risen to the challenge in supporting connected care services throughout the United States,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said. “Our Connected Care Pilot Program will help us to look to the future and determine how universal service support can shepherd telehealth services into a new era of healthcare delivery. Today’s Public Notice provides critical program information to help health care providers prepare to apply for this universal service program. I’d like to thank my colleagues at the FCC for working diligently on this effort and Commissioner Carr for his leadership on this important initiative.”
The FCC adopted the final rules for the program in April. Previously, Chairman Pai stated that the Connected Care Pilot Program would help make connected care a permanent part of the Universal Service Fund through this funding.