FCC Grant FAQs
BACKGROUND ON THE PROGRAM
What is the COVID-19 Telehealth Program?
The Federal Communications Commission (Commission or FCC) adopted the $200 million COVID-19 Telehealth Program in a Report and Order released April 2, 2020. The COVID-19 Telehealth Program was established by the Commission in response to the public health emergency brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Through this program, the Commission will distribute the $200 million Congress appropriated under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, to help health care providers provide telehealth services to patients at their homes or mobile locations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Is this a grant program?
No, the COVID-19 Telehealth Program is not a grant program. To receive disbursements, eligible health care providers that are approved for funding will be required to submit an invoicing form and supporting documentation in order to receive reimbursement for eligible expenses and services. Applicants who receive funding will be required to comply with all program rules and requirements, including applicable reporting requirements, and may be subject to compliance audits.
I need to obtain an FCC Registration Number (FRN) before I submit an application, how do I do this?
You must register for an FRN in the Commission’s Registration System (CORES). To register with CORES, go to: https://apps.fcc.gov/cores/userLogin.do. First, set up an account in CORES by creating a username and an account in the FCC User Registration System. You will then receive an automated email to verify your account’s email address and activate your account. Once your account is activated, log in to CORES, and select either the “Register New FRN” or “Associate Username to FRN” option, as applicable. After you provide the required information and submit, CORES will generate a new FRN for you or associate your existing FRN with your account.
When can eligible health care providers start submitting applications?
The Wireline Competition Bureau began receiving application forms and supporting documentation for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program on April 13, 2020.
Where can I find the application to apply for funding under the COVID-19 Telehealth Program?
The COVID-19 Telehealth Program application form is available at https://www.fcc.gov/covid-19-telehealth-program. In a Public Notice released April 8, 2020 the Commission provided additional guidance on actions applicants can begin to take to ready themselves for filing an application for COVID-19 Telehealth Program funding.
Is there an application window or deadline?
No deadline has been set for the filing of COVID-19 Telehealth Program applications. Applications may be filed beginning at 12:00 PM (ET) on April 13, 2020, and funding decisions will be made on a rolling basis. The Commission will continue to accept and review applications until the funding is exhausted or the current COVID-19 pandemic has ended.
Is there a limit on the number of health care providers that will receive funding?
There are no set limitations on the number of health care providers that can receive funding under the COVID-19 Telehealth Program. Rather, the Commission will continue to review applications and make funding decisions until the funding is exhausted or the current pandemic has ended. The Commission will not make funding decisions based solely on requested funding. However, it will consider the funding sought by each applicant compared to the total budget and seek to select as many applicants as reasonably possible within the COVID-19 Telehealth Program’s limited budget.
HEALTH CARE PROVIDER ELIGIBILITY
Who is eligible to receive funding?
The COVID-19 Telehealth Program is open to eligible health care provider sites that treat patients, whether located in rural or non-rural areas or U.S. territories. The COVID-19 Telehealth Program is limited to nonprofit and public eligible health care providers that fall within the categories of health care providers in section 254(h)(7)(B) of the 1996 Act: (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; or (8) consortia of health care providers consisting of one or more entities falling into the first seven categories. For purposes of the COVID-19 Telehealth Program, which is authorized by the CARES Act, and not the 1996 Telecommunications Act, both rural and non-rural health clinics are eligible to receive funding.
Can vendors of eligible services and devices apply for funding?
No. Vendors of eligible services and devices are not eligible to apply for funding. The COVID-19 Telehealth Program is only open to eligible health care providers. Eligible health care providers select the specific eligible services and devices and the vendors for those services and devices.
How can health care providers determine if they are eligible to participate?
Health care providers seeking to participate in the COVID-19 Telehealth Program must obtain an eligibility determination from the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) for each health care provider site that they include in their application. Interested health care providers that do not already have an eligibility determination can obtain one by filing an FCC Form 460 through My Portal on USAC's webpage.
You can also reach out to USAC with specific questions about eligibility and completing the FCC Form 460 by email at RHC-Assist@usac.org or by phone at (800) 453-1546 (Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET).
* Note, language on the FCC Form 460 referencing a rural or consortium requirement does not apply to the COVID-19 Telehealth Program.
Do I need to have a decision on my eligibility before I submit an application?
No, you do not. Health care providers may submit their applications while their eligibility determinations are pending.However, no award of funding will be made until the applicant has been determined to be an eligible health care provider.
If I have already received an eligibility determination for the FCC’s existing Rural Health Care Programs do I need to obtain a new one?
No, you do not. If you have already been deemed eligible to participate in the FCC’s existing Rural Health Care (RHC) Programs, you can rely on the eligibility determination for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program.
Are temporary or mobile locations of eligible health care providers eligible for support?
Yes, eligible connected care services provided by eligible health care providers are supported, even when provided from mobile or temporary locations.
ELIGIBLE SERVICES AND DEVICES
What services and connected devices are eligible for COVID-19 Telehealth Program funding?
COVID-19 Telehealth Program funding will provide eligible health care providers support to purchase telecommunications, information services, and connected devices necessary to provide telehealth services to patients in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Devices for which funding is requested must be integral to patient care.
The COVID-19 Telehealth Program will only fund devices (e.g., pulse oximetry, blood pressure monitoring devices, etc.), that are themselves connected, and will not fund unconnected devices that patients can use at home and then manually report the results to their medical professional. Connected devices may include devices with Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity, including devices that connect to a consumer’s phone, for example.
Examples of eligible services and connected devices that COVID-19 Telehealth Program applicants may seek funding for include:
Telecommunications Services and Broadband Connectivity Services: Voice services, for health care providers or their patients.
Information Services: Internet connectivity services for health care providers or their patients; remote patient monitoring platforms and services; patient reported outcome platforms; store and forward services, such as asynchronous transfer of patient images and data for interpretation by a physician; platforms and services to provide synchronous video consultation.
Connected Devices/Equiment: Tablets, smart phones, or connected devices to receive connected care services at home (e.g., broadband-enabled blood pressure monitors; pulse oximetry monitors) for patient or health care provider use; or telemedicine kiosks/carts for health care provider sites.
Are personnel, IT, administrative, and training costs eligible for support?
No. The COVID-19 Telehealth Program provides funding for eligible telecommunications services, information services, and connected devices that eligible health care providers need in order to provide connected care services to their patients to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
Funding will not be provided for personnel costs (including but not limited to costs for IT staff, project managers, or medical professionals), marketing costs, administrative expenses, or training costs. Vendors and service providers can elect to provide training and other IT support at no cost to health care providers participating in the program. Eligible health care providers should not include the cost of ineligible items in their funding application.
Will you fund the building of websites or development of new platforms for providing connected care services?
No. Only eligible connected care services and devices may be funding by the COVID-19 Telehealth Program; the program is not intended to fund development of new websites, systems, or platforms.
Are retroactive costs eligible for funding?
Eligible health care providers may apply to receive funding support through the COVID-19 Telehealth Program for eligible services and devices purchased on or after March 13, 2020.
SELECTION AND FUNDING PROCESS
How quickly will applications be processed?
Applications will be reviewed as they are received. Commission staff will reach out to applicants for follow-up information if they have questions. To facilitate the application review process, applicants are encouraged to provide complete, thorough information in their applications.
How will the Commission determine which applications will be funded?
Commission staff, in consultation with the FCC’s Connect2Health Task Force, will evaluate the COVID-19 Telehealth Program applications and will select participants based on each applicant’s responses to the following criteria:
The conditions to be treated using the COVID-19 Telehealth Program funding.
The goals and objectives for use of the COVID-19 Telehealth Program funding.
The timeline for deployment of the proposed service(s) or devices funded by the COVID-19 Telehealth Program.
The factors/metrics the applicant will use to help measure the impact of the services and devices funded by the COVID-19 Telehealth Program.
The geographic area and population served by the applicant. and whether that geographic area has been under any pre-existing strain (e.g., large underserved or low-income patient population; health care provider shortages; rural hospital closures; limited broadband access and/or Internet adoption).
The health care providers’ targeting of funding to high-risk and vulnerable patients.
The date and time of your application is not determinative of whether you will receive funding; funding decisions will be made on a rolling basis, however. The Commission’s goal is to select applications that target areas that have been hardest hit by COVID-19 and where the support will have the most impact on addressing the health care needs. For additional information, please see the Report and Order and the Public Notice.
Is there a funding cap for specific services and devices?
The Commission did not set a per-unit funding cap for eligible services or devices. However, eligible health care providers are strongly encouraged to purchase cost-effective eligible services and devices to the extent practicable. Moreover, the Commission does not anticipate awarding more than $1 million to any single applicant.
How will funding amount determinations be made?
Funding amount determinations will be based on the cost information for eligible devices and services, along with any supporting documentation, that eligible health care providers submit in their applications.
When and how will funding be disbursed?
After receiving the eligible services and/or devices, health care providers that receive funding through the program will submit invoicing forms and supporting documentation on a monthly basis to the Commission. After the reimbursement request is approved, payment will be issued electronically to the health care provider.
Is there anything I need to do to receive payments under the COVID-19 Telehealth Program?
Yes. You must be registered with the federal System for Award Management to receive COVID-19 Telehealth Program funding. If you are already registered with the System for Award Management, you do not need to re-register with that system in order to receive payment. To register with the system, go to https://www.sam.gov/SAM/ with the following information: (1) DUNS number; (2) Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) or Employment Identification Number (EIN); and (3) Your bank’s routing number, your bank account number, and your bank account type, i.e. checking or savings, to set up Electronic Funds Transfer. You will receive a confirmation email once the registration is activated.
Can I still submit an application if I am not yet registered with the federal System for Award Management?
Yes. You may still submit an application. However, we strongly recommend unregistered health care providers to register right away because it may take up to 10 business days for your registration to become active, and an additional 24 hours before that registration information is available in other government systems.
What happens if I need additional funding?
If a selected health care provider exhausts its funding commitment, the health care provider can submit another application. Any additional disbursement of funding is dependent upon the availability of COVID-19 Telehealth Program funds.
Are there any specific procurement requirements?
Given the current pandemic and its impact on health care providers, the COVID-19 Telehealth Program does not have any competitive bidding requirements. However, we strongly encourage applicants to purchase cost-effective eligible services and devices to the extent practicable during this time.
Will Commission staff make vendor recommendations or put vendors into contact with eligible health care providers who apply for funding?
No, Commission staff will not make recommendations or connect vendors or service providers with eligible health care providers. Eligible health care providers select the specific eligible services and devices and the vendors for those services and devices.
Who can I contact for additional information?
For general questions about the program, please email EmergencyTelehealthSupport@fcc.gov with any additional questions. For questions about the application process, please email TelehealthApplicationSupport@fcc.gov.