Jun 12, 2020 - Technology

Democrats want more details on FCC's coronavirus telehealth fund

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) speaks at a podium with this hands upturned during a press conference

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ). Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images.

Democratic lawmakers demanded more transparency Friday into how the Federal Communications Commission is doling out $200 million in coronavirus telehealth funding.

Why it matters: The FCC has awarded about half the money, but lawmakers want to know more about health care providers whose applications have not yet been approved.

Details: In a letter to FCC chairman Ajit Pai, House Energy & Commerce Committee chairman Frank Pallone and communications subcommittee chairman Mike Doyle ask the agency to provide a public docket on its website by June 19 with all the applications it has received for funding from the COVID-19 Telehealth Program.

  • The agency should provide weekly updates on which applications have been approved, the dates funds were disbursed and a summary of any uses or devices that were not approved for reimbursement, the lawmakers said.
  • "We have heard reports that many health care providers are facing issues obtaining funds, particularly those serving tribal lands," the lawmakers wrote. "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."

What they're saying: The FCC has been providing weekly updates on the funding applications that have been approved, along with details of the telehealth projects, an agency spokesperson noted.

  • "Going forward, our focus has been and must continue to be on processing all of the applications quickly and carefully, an effort that could be undercut if we turn our attention to creating a new system for posting pending applications," the spokesperson said in a statement.
  • The FCC said this week it has approved nearly $105 million for 305 health care providers across 42 states and Washington, D.C.
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