Announcements came out this week that round two of the COVID-19 telehealth program will begin this month. The application portal will open on April 29 at 12 pm. The filing window will last seven days and close on Thursday, May 6 at 12 pm. In December, Congress approved another $250 million for telehealth as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act. The program was developed to support enhanced connectivity and patient access by providing additional funding for provider telecommunications services, information services, and remote patient monitoring.
The COVID-19 Telehealth Program operates as a reimbursement program that allows providers to submit documentation to receive payment for telehealth-related costs. However, round two of the program has significant differences. Instead of approvals coming on a first-come-first-served basis, all applications will be reviewed collectively after the application closes. Applicants will be rated based on need, prioritizing hard-hit and low-income areas, tribal community providers, critical access hospitals, Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers, Disproportionate Share Hospitals, providers shortage areas, and new applicants. All providers, including round one recipients, are eligible for a maximum of $1M in funding.
Providers may apply for funding of a broad range of healthcare-related applications, including the electronic exchange of health information and the use of real-time and delayed video conferencing. Connected devices are also eligible, including Bluetooth-enabled pulse-oximeters or remote blood pressure monitoring devices. The program excludes funding for the development of new websites, systems, or platforms.
At least one applicant from all 50 states and the District of Columbia will be awarded funds. Before funding decisions are made, all applications will be reviewed to ensure funding is awarded to the most deserving applicants. Eligibility criteria include non-profit and public health care providers only; for-profit entities are not eligible for reimbursement. The program is open to both rural and non-rural healthcare providers.
For additional information on eligibility and the application process, review the Application Process Guidance available on the Universal Service Administrative Company’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program webpage at https://www.usac.org/about/covid-19-telehealth-program/. Questions specific to the application process should be directed to Round2TelehealthApplicationSupport@usac.org.
Amber Owens, MHA, MBA, RHIA, FACHE
Director of Healthcare Relations
New Jersey Innovation Institute