FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel has circulated a Report and Order and an Order on Reconsideration for the second round of the COVID-19 Telehealth Program. Directed by Congress under the CARES Act, the FCC established a $200 million program to support health care providers in their use of telecommunications services, information services, and certain devices when serving patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. In December 2020, Congress passed another round of funds for the Program — an additional $249.95 million — in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.
The rules and procedures would establish a system for rating applications, taking into account factors such as hardest hit and lowest-income areas, Tribal communities, health care provider shortage areas, and unfunded Round 1 applicants. The rules also attempt to ensure equitable distribution nationwide and set an application deadline for comprehensive review of all applications — abandoning the rolling approval system used in Round 1 of the Program. Moreover, to align the rules with the directives of Congress, the draft Report and Order proposes applicants be awarded funds in two phases to grant funds as soon as possible and provide an opportunity to send additional information if the applicant is initially denied.