7 Day Window to Apply for COVID-19 Telehealth Relief Funds
April 29-May 6
Healthcare providers seeking to access a second round of funding through the COVID-19 Telehealth Program will have to act quickly. The filing window opens at 12 p.m. ET on Thursday, Apr. 29 and will close one week later at 12 p.m. ET on Thursday, May 6.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided $200 million in funding to healthcare providers to service patients in their homes or mobile locations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Monies were designated to pay for telecommunications services, information services and connected devices through a program administered by the Federal Telecommunications Commission (FCC).
Second Round of Funding
The FCC stopped taking applications for the first round on funding on June 25, 2020, but additional funds of almost $250 million have been made available through the Consolidated Appropriations Act, signed into law on December 27, 2020.
Round 2 will be administered by the Universal Service Administration Company (USAC) through a revised application and award process using a scoring system for applicants. With more of a focus on equitable distribution, points will be awarded based on the following metrics:
- Hardest hit areas
- Low income areas
- Round one unfunded applicants
- Tribal communities
- Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs)
- Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), FQHC Look-Alike, or Disproportionate Share Hospitals (DSHs)
- Healthcare Provider Shortage Areas (HPSAs)
- Round two new applicants
- Rural counties
Healthcare providers eligible for Telehealth Program funds include:
- Post-secondary educational institutions offering healthcare instruction, teaching hospitals and medical schools
- Community health centers or health centers providing care to migrants
- Local health departments or agencies
- Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs)
- Not-for-profit hospitals
- Rural Health Clinics (RHCs)
- Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs)
- Consortia of healthcare providers consisting of entities that fall into one or more of the above categories
Is This a Grant Program?
The COVID-19 Telehealth Program is not a grant program. Healthcare providers approved for funding will need to submit an invoicing form and supporting documentation to receive reimbursement for eligible expenses and services. Applicable reporting requirements must be followed and some providers receiving funds may be subject to compliance audits.
In round two, expenses must have been incurred on or after March 13, 2021 to qualify and the program will fund up to 12 months of recurring expenses.
Use of Funds
While the application process has changed from the first round of funding, the use of funds remains the same. Expenditures necessary to provide telehealth services to patients that are covered include the following:
- Telecommunications – voice services and internet connectivity services.
- Information Services – remote patient monitoring services and platforms; store and forward services including image transfer services for interpretation by a physician; video consultation platforms; patient reported outcome platforms.
- Connected Devices – smart phones, tablets, and other connected devices used to provide healthcare services such as broadband, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth-enabled blood pressure monitors and pulse-oximeters.
General office equipment, including scanners and printers, are not considered connected devices through the Telehealth Program.
How to Apply
Application for Telehealth funding is a multi-step process:
- Request an eligibility determination from the USAC by filing FCC Form 460: https://rhc.usac.org/hcf/public/publicFindHcp.htm
- Apply for an FCC Registration Number (FRN) and an FCC Commission Registration System (CORES): https://apps.fcc.gov/cores/userLogin.do
- Register for a System for Awards Management (SAM) account: https://www.sam.gov/SAM/
To access Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) concerning the Telehealth Program along with video tutorials, go to the USAC Telehealth portal at https://www.usac.org/about/covid-19-telehealth-program/
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