The Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Health Care Program will carry forward up to $379.97 million in unused funds from prior years to increase available funding for funding year 2021 and beyond if needed, the agency announced yesterday.
The commission in 2018 established a process to carry forward past unused funds to meet growing demand for access to health care broadband services, particularly in rural areas. It also increased the program’s annual funding cap and decided to adjust it annually for inflation. The funding cap for funding year 2021 is about $612 million, a 1.2% increase from 2020. The 2021 application filing window was extended from April 1 to June 1 to reduce the burden on providers addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.
In other news, the FCC released further guidance on its $100 million Connected Care Pilot Program, including eligible services, competitive bidding, invoicing and data reporting for selected participants. The FCC last week approved 36 additional pilot projects for the program, created in 2019 to support telehealth for low-income Americans, including those in rural areas. The new projects join 23 projects approved earlier this year for a total of $57 million in funding.