The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced it has approved a Report and Order offering further guidance on the administration of its $100 million Connected Care Pilot Program, including guidance on eligible services, competitive bidding, invoicing, and data reporting for selected participants, which will enable applicants selected for the Pilot Program to begin their projects.
Additionally, the FCC this week voted to approve 36 additional pilot projects for a total of over $31 million in funding. The newly selected Pilot projects join an initial set of 23 projects approved earlier this year, bringing the total to over $57 million in funding for 59 pilot projects serving patients in 30 states plus Washington, DC.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Medicare patients’ telehealth activity increased from 15,000 beneficiaries a week pre-pandemic, to 24.5 million beneficiaries receiving a telehealth services between mid-March and mid-October 2020. The Pilot Program will make available up to $100 million from the Universal Service Fund over a three-year period for selected pilot projects to help defray the costs of providing certain telehealth services for eligible health care providers, with a particular emphasis on providing connected care services to low-income and veteran patients.
The action allows Pilot Program participants to begin their projects. It also provides guidance on eligible services, including clarification on the eligibility of certain network equipment. In addition, the Order provides details about the competitive bidding process, requesting funding, receiving funding commitments, making changes to projects, and seeking reimbursement through submitting invoices. The projects will address a variety of critical health issues such as maternal health, chronic disease, mental health conditions, and opioid dependency, among others.