Telehealth Grant Funding Available for Healthcare Entities
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a Public Notice on April 8, 2020, regarding the $200 million COVID-19 Telehealth Program. Under this program, eligible healthcare providers can apply for funding to purchase telecommunications services, information services and/or devices in response to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and incidence of COVID-19. Funding available to each eligible provider isn’t expected to be greater than $1 million.
Funding is eligible for the following entities under this program:
- Post-secondary educational institutions offering healthcare instruction, including teaching hospitals or medical schools
- Community health centers or health centers providing healthcare to migrants
- Local health departments or agencies
- Community mental health centers
- Nonprofit hospitals
- Rural health clinics
- Skilled nursing facilities
- Consortiums of healthcare providers consisting of one or more entities described above
According to the Public Notice, “Health care providers seeking to participate in the COVID-19 Telehealth Program must obtain an eligibility determination from the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) for each health care provider site that they include in their application. Health care provider sites that USAC has already deemed eligible to participate in the FCC’s existing Rural Health Care (RHC) Programs may rely on that eligibility determination for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program. Interested health care providers that do not already have an eligibility determination may obtain one by filing an FCC Form 460 (Eligibility and Registration Form) with USAC. Applicants that do not yet have an eligibility determination from USAC can still nonetheless file an application with the Commission for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program while their FCC Form 460 is pending with USAC.”
Below are the services that are eligible to receive grant funding:
- Telecommunications Services & Broadband Connectivity Services: Voice services and internet connectivity services for healthcare providers or their patients.
- Information Services: Remote patient monitoring platforms and services; patient-reported outcome platforms; store-and-forward services, such as asynchronous transfer of patient images and data for interpretation by a physician; and platforms and services to provide synchronous video consultation.
- Internet Connected Devices/Equipment: Tablets, smartphones or connected devices to receive connected care services at home, e.g., broadband-enabled blood pressure monitors, pulse ox for patient or healthcare provider use or telemedicine kiosks/carts for healthcare provider site.
In addition, COVID-19 Telehealth Program support will be available to eligible healthcare providers for services that require monthly recurring charges, such as broadband connectivity or remote patient monitoring services. Funding is available for eligible expenditures incurred March 13, 2020, through September 30, 2020.
Applicants should ensure they have appropriate controls in place to accurately track COVID-19-related expenditures. Applicants will be required to “summarize the expected costs of the eligible services and devices requested and may include documentation such as an invoice or quote from a vendor or service provider (or similar information). Such information should be specific enough to identify line-items to facilitate swift review of the application, and we encourage applicants to include information such as a description of the service or device, its eligibility category, the quantity ordered, the upfront and monthly expenses, and the service dates for recurring services.”
Applications will be funded on a first-come, first-served basis. While the FCC isn’t yet accepting applications, there are several steps eligible healthcare providers can do immediately:
- Obtain an eligibility determination from USAC by submitting Form 460 if your organization isn’t already deemed eligible to participate in the FCC’s existing RHC Program.
- Obtain an FCC Registration Number (FRN) if your organization doesn’t already have one. Visit the FCC’s website to obtain your FRN.
- Register with the System for Award Management, if you haven’t already.
- Submit application on the FCC’s website.
If interested in this funding, it’s imperative for your organization to start determining eligibility immediately. As mentioned previously, applicants that don’t yet have an eligibility determination from USAC can still nonetheless file an application with the FCC for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program while their FCC Form 460 is pending with USAC. However, you must obtain an FRN number before you can submit your application.
BKD will continue to follow this developing situation. As with most topics related to COVID-19, changes are being made rapidly. Please note that this information is current as of the date of publication. Visit BKD's COVID-19 Resource Center to learn more. If you have questions, contact your BKD Trusted Advisor™ or use the Contact Us form below.