On March 30, 2020, Ajit Pai, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), announced plans to implement a $200 million grant program that would support health care providers’ use of telehealth in their response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). If implemented, this program would leverage $200 million provided to the agency by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was signed into law on March 27, 2020. These funds would be allocated to grantees to assist their purchase of communications equipment that is necessary to deliver care via telehealth.
Chairman Pai also announced plans to create a long-term Connected Care Pilot Program, which would study how connected care could be a permanent component of the Universal Service Fund. This program would make $100 million available to health care providers to help them defray the cost of delivering care via telehealth to patients in their homes or mobile locations. Delivering care to low-income Americans and veterans would be prioritized.
This injection of federal funding into the digital health ecosystem along with the increased emphasis on telehealth services during the coronavirus outbreak will likely accelerate the adoption of telehealth in the U.S.