The FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau is seeking comment on how the FCC should administer round two of its COVID-19 Telehealth Program, which got a $250 million infusion of money from the appropriations legislation/COVID-19 aid package recently approved by Congress.
The FCC wants to know what metrics it should use to evaluate applications and how it should treat applications received during the initial round of funding but did not get funds.
In round one, the FCC allocated $200 million of CARES Act funding for 539 applications from 47 states plus D.C.
Among the questions the bureau wants answered:
1. "Should we target funding to hardest hit areas and how should the 'hardest hit' areas be defined?
2. "Given the changing landscape of the pandemic in recent months, how should previous, unfunded applications be addressed?"
"[A]re there lessons learned from the initial round of the program that could lead to program improvements?"
"We have already seen the program’s positive impact on expanding access to telehealth services across the country, from health clinics providing bi-lingual telehealth services to rural hospitals connecting with record numbers of remote patients," said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. "I’m pleased that this new support from Congress will enable us to extend this program into 2021. I am confident that our team at the Commission will work expeditiously to provide additional support for telehealth services through Round 2 of the program.”
Comments are due Jan. 19, one day before the FCC changes to new, Democratic, leadership.
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