The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced it will begin accepting applications for Round 2 of the COVID-19 Telehealth Program on April 29. The application portal will be open for seven calendar days, closing on May 6.
The program provides reimbursement to nonprofit and public health care providers for telecommunications services, information services, and connected devices necessary to enable telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic. Round 2 of the program is a nearly $250 million federal initiative funded by the Consolidated Appropriations Act that builds on the $200 million included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Funding per applicant is capped at $1 million. The FCC’s grant review process will attempt to ensure that at least two applications with a lead health care provider from each state or territory receive funding. Round 1 applicants that did not receive funding will be required to submit an application to receive funding in Round 2. However, they will receive an increase in points that are not available to new applicants. Additionally, Round 1 applicants that received less than $1 million may submit an application during the second round and receive funds up to the cap.
Round 2 application evaluation metrics will prioritize funding to:
- Eligible health care providers that will benefit most from telehealth funding
- As many eligible health care providers as possible
- Tribal, rural, and low-income communities
- Areas most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic
The table below outlines the application metrics and their weighting.
|Factor||Required Information||Available Points|
|Hardest Hit Area||Provide health care provider county||Up to 15|
|Low-Income Area||Provide health care provider physical address and county||15|
|Round 1 Unfunded Applicant||Provide unique application number from Round 1||15|
|Tribal Community||Provide physical address or supporting documentation to verify Indian Health Service or Tribal Affiliation||15|
|Critical Access Hospital||Proof of critical access hospital certification||10|
|FQHC/FQHC Look-Alike/DSH Hospital||Proof of FQHC certification, or demonstrate qualification as a FQHC look-alike, or demonstrate qualification as a disproportionate share hospital||10|
|Health Care Provider Shortage Area||Provide Healthcare Provider Shortage Area ID number or health care provider county||Up to 10|
|Round 2 New Applicant||Certify, under penalty of perjury, that the applicant has not previously applied for program funding||5|
|Rural County||Must provide health care provider county||5|
Funding for Round 2 of the program will be awarded in two phases. The initial phase will award at least $150 million to the highest-scoring applicants. Once the initial group of awardees is identified, applications outside that group will be given a 10-day period to supplement their application. After that 10-day period, the remaining applications will be re-ranked and awarded the available funding.
The COVID-19 Telehealth Program will not directly pay a health care provider’s service providers or vendors. Funding recipients must first pay the vendor or service provider for the costs of the eligible services and/or connected devices received before requesting reimbursement for those costs from the COVID-19 Telehealth Program. The FCC emphasizes that only items eligible under the CARES Act will be reimbursed by the program. To that end, the FCC’s Office of Inspector General was allocated funds to conduct compliance audits. Additional guidance on audit procedures will be made available at a later date.
Additional details about the application process are available on the FCC website.