Following a series of tweets calling on the commissioners to complete a vote on telehealth funding, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced late Friday that the item had been voted, with an additional $42.19 million freed up for the Rural Health Care Program so the program would be fully funded.
"This action will help ensure that healthcare providers have the resources they need to promote telehealth solutions for patients," the FCC said, a growing need given the COVID-19 pandemic.
The order allows funding from prior years to be applied to a current funding gap and waives the cap on multi-year commitments and upfront payments.
“This is a critically important step that the FCC took today, particularly in light of the coronavirus pandemic," said Pai. "COVID-19 presents serious challenges to healthcare providers, and they need every tool in the toolbox at their disposal, particularly the enhanced connectivity that enables them to provide vital healthcare services to the American public. Today’s Order ensures that rural Americans will have access to the health care services they need.”
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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