Today, using $200 million from the recently passed CARES Act, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved a measure that will increase and improve telehealth capabilities to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.
The COVID-19 Telehealth Program will help eligible health care providers purchase telecommunications, broadband connectivity, and applicable devices necessary for providing telehealth services. Moreover, these telehealth services would help COVID-19 patients and provide care for non-COVID-19 patients with non-related conditions who might risk contracting the coronavirus when visiting a hospital or other healthcare facilities, freeing up hospital space and resources for COVID-19 patients. This program also reduces the risk of exposure to our heroic healthcare practitioners. The funding will support telehealth in regions already hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, including many areas in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Additionally, the FCC initiated program provides selected applicants with full funding for these eligible telehealth services and devices. To participate, eligible health care providers would submit a streamlined application to the FCC, and the FCC would award these funds to the selected applicants on a rolling basis until the $200 million is exhausted or until the coronavirus is over.
I want to thank the FCC, in particular Chairman Pai and Commissioner Carr, for accelerating this vital initiative and pushing telehealth to the forefront during this time of self-isolation and social distancing. I applaud our Commonwealth’s incredible healthcare providers, and increased telehealth services relieve some of the strain they are facing as they fight this pandemic. With smartphones, tablets, and current healthcare devices, patients no longer need to have in-person doctors’ visits to receive quality care. Expanding telehealth is one of several initiatives the FCC has advanced recently to keep Americans connected during the pandemic. As soon as the application is available I will distribute it.