FCC approves $100M Connected Care Pilot Program

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The nation’s lead agency regulating interstate communications has passed a plan to expand the use of telemedicine solutions.

The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday unanimously approved a new $100 million Connected Care Pilot Program supporting the use of remote telehealth technology for low-income and rural Americans.

The program, which was proposed last month by FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr to improve health outcomes and reduce costs, was voted on at Thursday’s Open Commission Meeting in Washington.

“I am glad my colleagues on the Commission voted to approve my proposal to begin establishing the Connected Care Pilot Program,” said Commissioner Carr in a written statement. “The FCC has long supported broadband deployments to brick-and-mortar healthcare facilities, but advancements in technology mean we can now bring connected care everywhere. So we should explore how the FCC can support this new trend in telehealth, which can lower costs and improve health outcomes.”

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Carr added that “low-income Americans, particularly in rural areas, face obstacles to healthcare, and I’m glad the FCC is doing its part to help bridge this doctor divide.”

The FCC is seeking public comment on the following aspects of the Universal Service Fund pilot program:

  • Goals of, and statutory authority for, the pilot program.
  • Measures of the effectiveness of pilot projects in achieving the goals of the program.
  • Design of the pilot program, including the budget; the application process and types of telehealth pilot projects that should be funded; eligibility criteria for participating healthcare providers, broadband service providers, and low-income consumers; the broadband services and other communications services and equipment that should be supported; the amount of support and how it should be disbursed; and the duration of the program.

“We’re exploring a program to promote the use of broadband-enabled telehealth services among low-income families and veterans, with a focus on services delivered directly to patients beyond the doors of brick-and-mortar healthcare facilities,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in a written statement. “We’re asking for public input on the goals of, and statutory authority for, this ‘Connected Care’ pilot program as well as how best to design the pilot program.”

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