The FCC provided additional information and direction for potential applicants interested in applying for its Connected Care Pilot Program. The Pilot initiative will provide up to $100 million from the Universal Service Fund over a three-year period to support the provision of connected care services, with an emphasis on supporting services for low-income Americans and veterans. The agency also plans to release further details regarding application procedures, including the timing of the application window.
“This year, our country has pivoted to a newer model of delivering health care, one that finds connectivity at its core, and the FCC has risen to the challenge in supporting connected care services throughout the United States,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “Our Connected Care Pilot Program will help us to look to the future and determine how universal service support can shepherd telehealth services into a new era of healthcare delivery.”
The Pilot Program is open to nonprofit and public eligible health care providers that fall within those detailed categories in section 254(h)(7)(B) of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, whether located in rural or non-rural areas. To prepare to submit an application, providers can take steps now to determine if they’re eligible by filing an FCC Form 460 with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) to receive a Health Care Provider (HCP) number and eligibility determination.
An eligibility determination and HCP number is required for each provider site that will be included in an application for the Pilot Program. Health care provider sites that USAC has already deemed eligible to participate in the Pilot program or COVID-19 Telehealth Program may rely on that eligibility determination for the Pilot.
The Commission adopted final rules for the Connected Care Pilot Program on April 2.
Specifically, the Pilot Program will use USF funding to help defray costs of connected care services for eligible health care providers, providing universal service support for 85 percent of the cost of eligible services and network equipment, which include: (1) patient broadband Internet access services; (2) health care provider broadband data connections; (3) other connected care information services; and (4) certain network equipment. The Pilot Program will not provide money for devices.
Additional information and updates will be posted on the Connected Care Pilot Program web page.