If you are a healthcare provider, you are likely aware of the $249.95 million in telehealth funding recently released by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This legislation builds on the $200 million telehealth program, established under the CARES Act for the purpose of funding valuable telehealth solutions and services during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“If the past year has shown us anything, it’s that telehealth technology is here to stay and can be a solution to help address inequities in access to healthcare services,” said Jessica Rosenworcel, Acting FCC Chairwoman.
While the benefits of securing this funding for your telehealth initiatives are clear, understanding your eligibility and how to successfully apply for these funds may seem like a daunting task.
To support you as you make sense of this new round of funding, we teamed up with industry experts and created an outline of the basics.
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Background: How Funding Round 2 Differs from Round 1
Unlike in the first round of FCC funding for telehealth, which accepted applications on a rolling basis, the FCC has created a seven-day Filing Window in this second round to avoid a ‘mad dash.’ The dates of this window have not yet been released but are expected to come out the last week of April or the first week of May.
Additionally, Round 2 funding will be released in two phases:
- Initial Commitment Phase – $150 million will be released during this first phase, a piece of which is the Equitable Distribution component. This measure will ensure that there are at least two awardees in every U.S. state, region, and territory between these two rounds of funding – meaning that the FCC will target any states or territories that did not receive funding via the first round as they award funding this second round. The FCC will then award up to $150 million once those bases have been covered.
- Final Release Phase – Anyone who did not receive funding during the first phase will have a ten-day period in which to resubmit their applications, at which point the FCC will begin to release the remaining $100 million in available funding.
Another important distinction is that, in this round, the FCC has enacted a set of objective criteria based on publicly available information to guide their award decisions. This measure lessens the pressure on healthcare providers to justify their telehealth needs, instead categorizing the need by metrics like census block, geographical location, etc.
To that end, applications will be evaluated using the following point system:
|Point Value |
Hardest Hit Areas (relating to COVID-19 criteria established by the HHS)
Up to 15
Up to 15
Round 1 Unfunded Applicants
Up to 15
Serving Tribal Communities
Up to 15
Critical Access Hospitals
Up to 10
FQHC/Look-Alike-Disproportionate Share Hospitals
Up to 10
Healthcare Provider Shortage Areas
Up to 10
|Round 2 New Applicant |
Up to 5
|Rural Counties |
Up to 5
Lastly, the FCC is increasing their commitment from six months of ongoing telehealth services up to 12 months.
Best Practices & What You Can Do Right Now
- Establish Your Eligibility – The most important step you can take at this juncture is to establish your eligibility. If you have not already done so, file your FCC Form 460 with the Universal Service Administrative Co (USAC), the governing body that is making this round of FCC award determinations. Once you file this application, you will be assigned a Health Care Provider (HCP) number that you will use on your Round 2 program application.
- Choose Provider Sites Carefully – As opposed to the first round of funding, in which applicants had to file each provider site individually to receive funding, in this Round 2, you must identify a ‘lead’ provider site to list on your application (saving on administrative time and resources). Given this requirement, it behooves requires you, as the applicant, to select a site strategically and to consider which of your locations may qualify for the most points. You may still, however, list any other provider sites on your application to qualify for additional points. Should you receive an amount of FCC funding, you may use them among any of your provider locations so long as they remain individually eligible.
- Detail Proposed Equipment and Services – The FCC only supports certain types of equipment and services – focusing on those relating to patient care and communications – and the more detail about the services for which you are seeking funding that you can provide in your application, the better. An ideal way to do this is through a detailed vendor invoices, which you can include with your application. You may also find it helpful to review the FCC Eligible Services List, linked below.
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Check out the following resources for further education as you continue on your funding journey.
Kajeet is a managed IoT solution provider that partners with healthcare providers to connect them to their patients in a secure, sustainable, and affordable way. We often work to connect our partners with funding sources they need, and we would be glad to provide you with any guidance and support you may need. Simply reach out to us here to get started.