Understanding the Second Round of COVID-19 Telehealth Funding

The FCC has just announced an additional $249M in funding for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program to help healthcare professionals provide connected services to patients in their homes. However, the application window is open only from April 29 to May 6, so it’s important you are immediately aware of the eligible telehealth and connected care services available to your organization, and how to apply.

This new funding is a continuation of the CARES Act which, in April 2020, provided $200 million to provide support to healthcare providers while they responded to the pandemic. Round 1 funds have been depleted, but under Round 2 guidelines, eligible services and devices include:

  • Telecommunications and broadband connectivity such as voice services and internet connectivity for healthcare providers or their patients, and network equipment needed to enable such services
  • Information services such as remote patient monitoring, patient data storage and transfer, and video consultations using services like mobile device managementteam collaborationelectronic forms and message archiving
  • Connected devices such as cellular-enabled Chromebooks/laptops, smartphones, tablets, routers and hotspots that remotely transmit patient vitals and other readings, plus additional accessories like web cameras and stethoscopes that connect to devices

Who is eligible to apply?

This program was created to directly benefit Healthcare Providers (HCP) that offer telehealth services, such as, but not limited to:

  • Rural health clinics​
  • Not-for-profit hospitals​
  • Skilled nursing facilities​
  • Local health departments​
  • Community health centers ​
  • Educational institutions offering healthcare instruction
  • Round 1 Program funding recipients may apply for Round 2 with a new submission

Full details on nonprofit and public eligible providers that fall within the categories of HCPs are available in section 254(h)(7)(B) of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

Should I apply for funding?

With such a short filing window, it’s vital to understand your needs for telehealth funding. Perhaps your medical practice was hard hit by a high demand for telemedicine during the height of the pandemic and your office struggled to accommodate calls and scheduling. If you could go back and refit your practice with additional tools, how would they have reduced the stress and demand?

Also ask yourself:

  • What is your long-term plan to address telehealth?
  • How do you reach patients in rural areas?
  • How will additional funds for telehealth impact the devices you have today?
  • Have you requested COVID-19 Relief Funds in the past?
  • Are you working with a cellular partner who can guide you through the process, and secure and enable your devices?

How to apply

  1. Request an eligibility determination from by filing an FCC Form 460
  2. Obtain an FCC Registration Number (FRN) and an FCC Commission Registration System (CORES) ID​
  3. Start the process for registering for a System for Awards Management (SAM) account​

Once approved through the program, healthcare providers pay for services and then must invoice Universal Service Administrative Co. (USAC) for reimbursement. Retroactive funding is available for eligible services and/or devices purchased on or after March 13, 2020 only and includes some services that require monthly recurring charges (such as broadband connectivity or remote patient monitoring services) through September 30, 2021.

If you have additional questions about the application process​, you may also consult the FCC’s FAQs pageemail USAC or work with your cellular partner.

UScellular™ solutions

UScellular offers several eligible services and devices to help you care for your patients, including:

  • Routers and hotspots for both patients and healthcare staff
  • Priority services and rugged devices for first responders
  • The latest smartphones, tablets and laptops including Chromebooks
  • Cloud communication services to enable teleconferencing
  • Mobile device security and management
  • Electronic forms to digitize patient records and ensure HIPAA compliance
  • Message archiving to securely store critical information

Our local representatives can provide you resources about the application and appropriation process to help you to take advantage of these new funds, but the filing window is short—April 29-May 6, 2021. To get started today, contact your UScellular business expert at 866-616-5587 or Telehealth.