CARES Act Telehealth Funding Opportunities Available

JSI Creates Pamphlet to Use in Educating Healthcare and Educational Customers

In the recently passed CARES Act, Congress recognized the importance of providing additional funding for rural healthcare and educational institutions. Specifically, the Act provides funding for four programs: COVID-19 Telehealth, Telehealth Network Grants, Distance Learning and Telemedicine, and the Connected Care Pilot. These new funding opportunities will not only benefit healthcare providers, schools and libraries, but also broadband providers to the extent that their services are requested by institutions receiving funding.

To assist clients in obtaining a better understanding of these programs, this e-Lert provides an overview of each program, key dates and the amount of funding available, as well as the extent to which your company can be involved in assisting your healthcare and educational customers to obtain this funding. We also have developed a pamphlet that provides more detailed information that you can share with local healthcare and educational institution customers who might be interested in obtaining funding from one or more of the programs.

If you would like a copy of the pamphlet, have any questions about the programs, or would like JSI to assist your healthcare and/or educational customers where such assistance is allowed, please contact Terri Delong in JSI’s Texas office at 512-338-0473 or Chresanthe Staurulakis in JSI’s Maryland office at 301-459-7590.

COVID-19 Telehealth Program

Agency: FCC

Application Date: Applications accepted starting April 13, 2020

Purpose: To help health care providers provide connected care services to patients at their homes or mobile locations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funding Available: $200 million is available. The FCC does not anticipate awarding more than $1 million to any single applicant, but applicants may request additional support after exhausting initially awarded funding.

Eligible Costs: Funding is available to cover any telecommunications services, information services and/or connected monitoring devices purchased on or after March 13, 2020, and necessary to provide critical connected care services for treatment of COVID-19 or other health conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding also is available for services that require monthly recurring charges, such as broadband connectivity or remote patient monitoring services, through September 30, 2020.

Eligible Applicants: 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 Telecom Act. Rural and non-rural eligible healthcare providers that purchased telecommunications services, information services, and/or devices in response to the COVID-19 pandemic after March 13, 2020, may apply. Health care providers seeking to participate must obtain an eligibility determination from USAC for each health care provider site that they include in their application.

Restrictions on Assistance: Vendors of eligible services and devices are not eligible for funding. However, eligible health care providers will select the specific eligible services and devices, as well as the vendors for those services and devices, before applying.

Telehealth Network Grant Program

Agency: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Service Administration

Application Date: Applications due June 15, 2020

Purpose: To promote rural tele-emergency services by enhancing telehealth networks to deliver 24-hour emergency department consultation services via telehealth to rural providers without emergency care specialists.

Funding Available: $8.7 million, with up to $300,000 per year for up to 29 grants, subject to availability of funds.

Period of Performance: September 1, 2020 – August 31, 2024 (4 years)

Eligible Costs: Direct costs, indirect costs (up to 15% of total award and limited to specific activities), facilities costs and administrative costs.

Eligible Applicants: Rural or urban non-profit entities that will provide direct clinical services through a telehealth network are eligible. Faith-based, community-based and tribal-based organizations are eligible. While applicants may be located in an urban area, services must be provided to rural areas.

Restrictions on Assistance: Award dollars may be used to pay for transmission costs, such as the cost of broadband or telecommunications directly related to the purposes of the project. However, Telehealth Network Grant Program network members must either (a) first apply for USAC’s Rural Health Care Program to obtain lower transmission rates, or (b) document why it is not applicable. Therefore, RHC Program rules and restrictions apply.


Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program

Agency: RUS

Application Date: April 14, 2020 – July 13, 2020

Purpose: To increase rural access to education, training and healthcare resources that are otherwise unavailable or limited in scope.

Funding Available: $25 million, with a minimum grant amount of $50,000 and a maximum grant amount of $1 million. A minimum 15% match, in cash or in kind, is required.

Period of Performance: 3 years

Eligible Costs: (i) Any project to acquire, by lease or purchase, eligible equipment; (ii) any project to acquire instructional programming; (iii) any project to provide technical assistance and instruction for using eligible equipment. Eligible equipment and facilities include broadband transmission facilities (limited to only 20% of grant), computer hardware and software, audio and video equipment, computer networking components, telecommunications terminal equipment, terminal equipment, inside wiring, interactive video equipment, land, buildings, or building construction needed to carry out an eligible distance learning or telemedicine project for loan financial assistance only.

Eligible Applicants: Most entities that provide education or healthcare through telecommunications, including (i) most State and local governmental entities; (ii) federally recognized tribes; (iii) non-profits; (iv) for-profit businesses; and (v) consortia of eligible entities. Electric or telecommunications borrowers financed through the Rural Utilities Service are eligible for grants.

Restrictions on Assistance: (1) Grant applications that are written by vendors that will be used on the project to be funded by the award will be ineligible as a violation of the competition rules in 2 CFR 200.319. Contractors that develop or draft specifications, requirements, statements of work, or invitations for bids or requests for proposals must be excluded from competing for procurements of equipment or services under the grant in accordance with 2 CFR 200.319. Applicants must fully understand the procurement requirements of 2 CFR 200.319 Subpart D when compiling an application for submission and must avoid use of predetermined equipment, unless they have adequately demonstrated in the application that no other equipment is available for the intended purpose; (2) The application must demonstrate matching contributions, in cash or in kind, of at least 15% of the grant amount required. Vendor matches requiring subsequent purchases, either by necessity or contract, are not permitted; (3) Equipment vendors, manufacturers, system integrators, and other businesses whose purpose in the proposal is to sell equipment or technological services to support applicants cannot themselves be applicants or affiliates of the applicant. If the grant writer for the application is paid by a vendor, manufacturer, system integrator, or other business, the vendor, manufacturer, system integrator or other business becomes an affiliate of the applicant and cannot participate in the project.


Connected Care Pilot Program

Agency: FCC

Application Date: TBD

Purpose: To support telehealth for and the delivery of connected care services to low-income Americans, specifically rural residents and veterans.

Period of Performance: 3 years, with separate transition periods of up to six months before and after the three-year funding period.

Funding Available: $100 million, no stated maximum grant amount or number of awarded grants.

Eligible Costs: Program will provide funding for selected pilot projects to cover 85% of the eligible costs of broadband connectivity (patient broadband internet access services and healthcare provider broadband data connections), network equipment for broadband connectivity, and information services necessary to provide connected care services to intended patients.

Eligible Applicants: Eligible nonprofit and public healthcare providers that fall within Section 254(h)(7)(B), regardless of whether they are rural or non-rural. However, FCC has strong preference for projects that will primarily benefit veterans or low-income individuals.

Restrictions on Assistance: The competitive bidding requirements for USAC’s Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) apply for participants in the program. Therefore, applicants will be required to follow the RHC program’s competitive bidding requirements, which include submitting a Request for Services and Request for Proposal for USAC to post on its website.