Pallone & Doyle Request Public Transparency for FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program
Washington, D.C. – Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-PA) sent a letter today to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai requesting that the Commission provide additional transparency on the distribution of public funds through the COVID-19 Telehealth Program, which Congress created in the CARES Act. Telehealth services are particularly important during this pandemic to ensure that individuals can continue to receive routine health care services without unnecessarily exposing themselves or their health care providers to the virus.
Under the CARES Act, Congress appropriated $200 million to the FCC to address the coronavirus “by providing telecommunications services, information services, and devices necessary to enable the provision of telehealth services.” As of June 10, the FCC has announced it has awarded more than $104 million of the total $200 million in appropriated funds through the COVID-19 Telehealth Program. Many details of these awards, including entities that have applied but have not been approved to receive funding, are known only to the FCC. Pallone and Doyle believe Congressional oversight of the funding awards is critical, especially to ensure that a broad variety of communities benefit from these limited resources.
“While the FCC has posted weekly updates of funding awards, we are troubled by the lack of transparency regarding the health care providers who have applied but have not yet received an award,” Pallone and Doyle wrote. “We have heard reports that many health care providers are facing issues obtaining funds, particularly those serving tribal lands. Similarly, health care providers report they have been unable to receive funding for some important telehealth equipment that we believe should be covered under the law.”
Pallone and Doyle are requesting the FCC provide more transparency into its decisions and take the following actions by June 19 and update the information weekly:
- On FCC’s public facing website, publish a docket that includes all of the applications the Commission has received for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program;
- Include information regarding applications that have been approved;
- For applications that have been approved, include information regarding the date on which funds were actually dispersed; and
- For applications that have been approved, include a summary of any uses or devices that were not approved for reimbursement.
To read the letter, click HERE.