The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced an $100 million telehealth program, which the FCC will vote on in August. The Connected Care Pilot Program will issue grants to providers to aid in securing broadband connectivity with the intention of assisting rural, low income beneficiaries gain access to telemedicine services. Access to telehealth services can enhance patient outcomes while reducing cost for both healthcare programs and providers. Over the course of the two- or three-year Program, the FCC will measure and verify the benefits, cost, and savings associated with connected care deployments.
The announcement of the Connected Care Pilot Program comes just weeks after the FCC increased this year’s Universal Service Fund’s Rural Health Care Program spending by $171 million. The increase to the $400 million already annually allocated to the program is intended to assist rural providers improve connectivity and thereby facilitate and expand access to telemedicine.
Financial support from federal agencies demonstrates the government’s recognition of the growth and importance of telehealth in the delivery of high quality, cost efficient service to beneficiaries across the country. However, while funding suggests approval of telemedicine services, providers must still be cautious of federal and state regulations, as well as billing guidelines issued by payors, that impose restrictions on the provision of telehealth services. Contact Frier Levitt for assistance in structuring a compliant and sustainable telehealth model.