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FCC Boosts 2020 Telehealth Funding By Almost $200 Million

Anticipating a boost in demand for telehealth funding--its the FCC's $200 million in new COVID-19-related CARES Act funding is already spoken for--the FCC pointed out Tuesday (June 30) that there is almost that much more available if needed. 

COVID-19 Related Broadband Funding Bill Introduced

The FCC put out a release saying it was increasing rural health care program funding for 2020, saying there was up to $197.98 million in unspent funds from that Universal Service Fund subsidy that can be used.  

The Wireline Competition Bureau said it had directed the Universal Service Administrative Company, which oversees billions of dollars in telecommunications subsidy programs, to make that money available for funding year 2020. 

Related: Sen. Sullivan Slams FCC Alaska Telehealth Clawback 

The current fund was capped at $604.76 million for 2020, but with the unspent funds added, a record $802.74 will be available. 

FCC chairman Ajit Pai pointed to the fortuitousness of the FCC's action in 2018 "to ensure that the Rural Health Care Program better reflected the needs of and advances in connected care," he said. "Looking to the future, we gave providers more certainty by adjusting the cap annually for inflation and allowing unused funds from previous years to be carried forward," funds that he now called critical in the fight against COVID-19. 

John Eggerton
John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.