July 15, 2020 5:38 am

The FCC has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking seeking comments by September 10, 2020 on its proposed Connected Care Pilot Program.

The FCC proposes to award $100 million over three years for eligible health care providers to defray the qualifying costs of providing connected care services to low-income Americans and veterans.

Funding will be awarded for up to 20 projects with awards of $5 million each.

Funding will be provided for a uniform percentage of eligible services or equipment to be funded, rather than fully funding any Pilot projects.

The FCC will publish a final order establishing the Pilot program and require applications be submitted within 120 days from the release of such an order.

Preference given to projects that:

  • Focus on health conditions that typically require at least several months or more to treat—such as behavioral health, opioid dependency, chronic health conditions (e.g., diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, stroke recovery), mental health conditions, and high-risk pregnancies. 
  • Service populations in Healthcare Provider Shortage Areas (HPSA) or are Medically Underserved Areas (MUA).
  • Serve geographic areas or populations where there are well- documented health care disparities (Tribal lands, rural areas, or veteran populations) or that treat certain health crises or chronic conditions that significantly impact many Americans and are documented to benefit from connected care, such as opioid dependency, diabetes, heart disease, mental health conditions, and high-risk pregnancy.

Participation limited to: (i) post- secondary educational institutions offering health care instruction, teaching hospitals, and medical schools; (ii) community health centers or health centers providing health care to migrants; (iii) local health departments or agencies; (iv) community mental health centers; (v) not-for-profit hospitals; (vi) rural health clinics; (vii) skilled nursing facilities; (viii) and consortia of health care providers.

Applications should contain, at a minimum, the following information:

  • Names and addresses of all health care providers that would participate in the proposed project and the lead health care provider for proposals involving multiple health care providers.
  • Contact information for the individual(s) that would run the proposed pilot project (telephone and email).
  • Health care provider number(s) and type(s) (e.g., non-profit hospital, community mental health center, community health center, rural health clinic, community mental health center), for each health care provider included in proposal.
  • Description of each participating health care provider’s experience with providing connected care services and conducting clinical trials or the experience of a partnering health care provider.
  • Description of the connected care services the proposed project will provide, the conditions to be treated, the health care provider’s experience with treating those conditions, the goals and objectives of the proposed project (including the health care provider’s anticipated goals with respect to reaching new or additional patients, improved patient health outcomes, or cost savings), and how the project will achieve the goals of the Pilot program.
  • Description of the clinical trial design intended to measure the effect of the connected care pilot on health outcomes.
  • Description of the estimated number of eligible low-income patients to be served.
  • Description of the plan for implementing and operating the project, including how the project intends to recruit eligible patients, plans to obtain the end-user and medical devices for the connected care services that the project would provide, and transition plans for participating patients after Pilot program funding ends.
  • List of all Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) designated Health Care Professional Shortage Areas (for primary care or mental health care only) or HRSA designated Medically Underserved Areas that will be served by the proposed project.
  • Description of whether the health care provider will primarily serve veterans or patients located in a rural area, or the provider is located in a rural area, on Tribal lands, or is associated with a Tribe, or part of the Indian Health Service.
  • Description of the anticipated level of broadband service required for the proposed project, including the necessary speeds/technologies and relevant service characteristics (e.g., 10/1 Mbps, or 4G).
  • Detailed estimated break-down of the total estimated costs for the broadband Internet access services and any other eligible costs.
  • Estimated total ineligible costs and description of the anticipated sources of financial support for the project’s ineligible costs.
  • Description of how the participating health care provider will ensure compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and other applicable privacy and reimbursement laws and regulations, and applicable medical licensing laws and regulations, and how it will safeguard the collected patient information against data security breaches.
  • Description of the health outcome metrics that the proposed project will measure and report on, and how those metrics will demonstrate whether the supported connected care services have improved health outcomes.
  • Description of how the health care provider intends to collect and track the required Pilot program data.