Connected Care Pilot Program

On July 11, 2018, the Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that the FCC would soon enact a $100 million program aiming to bring access to telehealth to rural and low-income areas. On August 2nd and 3rd it was adopted and released, giving a real opportunity for those rural communities to have access to healthcare that has been, until now, too hard to reach. The initial comment period closed on September 10th and the final reply comment period on October 10th. Now the whole of the rural health and underserved communities population are excitedly awaiting the release of the final revision to be published and begin implementation. This “Connected Care Pilot Program” will seek to use these funds to bring broadband access to telehealth to individuals in specifically targeted areas, not just healthcare facilities as in past initiatives, including veterans and those who are eligible for medicaid. It also would establish a system for evaluating the cost savings and health outcomes for those participating in the pilot, with the hope of spurring more programs in years to come. As the federal government and CMS take further steps every year to increase coverage and reimbursement for telehealth-related services, the reality of providing access to quality healthcare for everyone, no matter who you are or where you live, is getting closer and closer to fruition. Programs like these could greatly affect the future of telehealth for our nation and should serve as a source of hope for all providers practicing telemedicine, whether they serve low-income populations and work with Medicare or not. It has been a long time coming for those of us who have seen the benefits of telemedicine from day one, but our country is finally catching up and, while there is still much work to do, every day more strides are made to share this technology with every citizen of this great country. For the original notice of inquiry with the text of the proposal, as well as the Commissioners’ individual statements, click here. To read the first press release from the FCC, click here.
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