In a previous client alert, Stoel Rives’ health care team provided responses to certain frequently asked questions regarding the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC”) COVID-19 Telehealth Program (“Program”). At the time of that earlier client alert, FCC was awaiting the Office of Management & Budget’s approval of the Program application (“Application”) before beginning the application process.
The Application is now available via the FCC’s online portal, which can also be used to submit the Application. Funding decisions are being made on a rolling basis, and the FCC will stop accepting applications once the funding is exhausted or the COVID-19 pandemic ends. As of April 16, 2020, the FCC has approved six applications worth $3.23 million. See FCC News Release. As discussed in the previous client alert, applicants must (a) obtain an eligibility determination from the Universal Service Administrative Company (“USAC”) by submitting Form 460; (b) obtain a FCC Registration Number using the COmmission REgistration System (CORES); and (c) register with the System for Award Management. Note that providers can submit an Application while their USAC eligibility determination is pending.
Only “nonprofit and public eligible health care providers” may qualify to receive Program funding, which substantially limits the number of providers that can benefit from the Program and likely hinders the effectiveness of the Program. Providers who qualify for Program funds will not receive a cash award or grant to purchase eligible services or devices. Instead, Program recipients must first purchase the eligible services or devices, and subsequently submit invoices to the FCC for reimbursement. Thus, providers must have funds available to initially purchase the eligible services or devices.
Awardees must submit invoices on a monthly basis using the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service Invoice Processing Platform (“IPP”). Using the IPP, providers must submit the Request for Reimbursement Form and supporting documentation (e.g., invoices). For more information regarding the invoicing process, please refer to Wireline Competition Bureau and Office of Managing Director’s invoicing guidance.
On April 21, 2020, FCC announced that it is waiving the “red light” rule that would otherwise empower the FCC to withhold Program funds from applicants who were delinquent in their debts owed to the FCC until the debt was paid in full or other resolution was reached. Interested applicants can review Application Filing Instruction to learn more about the application process and the information and documentation needed to complete the Application. FCC FAQs and Guidance provide additional information regarding the Program.