FCC Releases Proposed Rule on Connected Care Pilot Program

Original Source: Center for Connected Health Policy

Last week the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to adopt a notice of proposed rule establishing the Connected Care Pilot Program to support the development of telehealth services and delivery for low-income Americans, especially among rural and veteran populations. A Notice of Inquiry for comments on the program was originally made in July 2018.  The goals of the program are to incentivize participation from a wide range of eligible health care providers and broadband service providers, provide meaningful data and provide insight into how universal service funds could better promote the adoption of connected care services.

The FCC proposes to adopt a $100 million budget, and would fund up to 20 projects with a three-year funding period, though all costs of a pilot would not be fully funded by this program which is similar to the conditions in the Healthcare Connect Program.

The pilot would give health care providers the flexibility to determine health conditions and geographic areas that they would like to focus on.  In order to receive funding, the project would need to be providing health care through connected care directly to qualifying patients.  The program would be limited to only health conditions that typically require at least several months or more of treatment, such as behavioral health, opioid dependency, chronic health conditions and high risk pregnancies.

Eligible healthcare providers under the proposal would include nonprofit or public health care providers to include the following:

  1. Post-secondary educational institutions offering health care instruction, teaching hospitals, and medical schools;
  2. Community health centers or health centers providing health care to migrants;
  3. Local health departments or agencies;
  4. Community mental health centers;
  5. Not-for-profit hospitals;
  6. Rural health clinics;
  7. Skilled nursing facilities;
  8. Consortia of any of the above

Both urban and rural health care providers would be eligible under the proposed rule.  The proposal also provides details and seeks comment on the proposed application process.

The FCC is requesting comments on all aspects of the proposed pilot, including the definition of a health condition and telehealth; the proposed eligible health care providers; and whether or not there are any licensing laws, regulations or reimbursement laws or regulations that would have a bearing on how they structure the pilot program.

Comments are due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.  Stay tuned to CCHP’s newsletter for links to comment submission forms once they become available.