The $2 trillion coronavirus aid bill gives $200 million to the FCC to help it expand telehealth and other remote services during the pandemic.
There is no deadline for spending the money, which the FCC gets "until expended." It is to go to "prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, domestically or internationally, including to support efforts of health care providers to address coronavirus by providing telecommunications services, information services, and devices necessary to enable the provision of telehealth services during an emergency period."
Of the money for telehealth, FCC chairman Ajit Pai said:
“At a time when many of our nation’s hospitals are facing unprecedented challenges because of the coronavirus pandemic, telemedicine has never been more important to our nation’s healthcare system and the many patients it needs to serve. That’s why I urged elected officials to provide funding for the FCC’s connected care efforts and why I want to thank the U.S. Senate for agreeing to that request in the CARES Act."
He said the money will support "this critical shift in healthcare delivery by giving the FCC the money and authority to quickly fund telehealth programs across the country—programs through which patients can be monitored and treated outside of a healthcare facility, receiving quality care while freeing up inpatient resources for sicker patients."
Pai said the FCC had already begun prepping for the law, as well has having taken steps to boost telemedicine, and urged the House to pass the bill and the President to sign in.
The bill also provided additional funds to the Department of Agriculture for its telehealth, distance learning and broadband buildout programs.
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.
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