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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Aug 20, 2020 - Technology

Former government officials argue for a new tech agency

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The government should establish a new Digital Platform Agency to regulate major tech firms, three Democratic former federal officials argue in a new paper from Harvard's Shorenstein Center shared first with Axios.

Why it matters: This is the latest proposal being offered up as policymakers weigh possible methods of reining in Big Tech beyond rewriting antitrust laws or taking a gamble on enforcement action under existing ones.

Bill Clinton slams McConnell and Trump: "Their first value is power"

Former President Bill Clinton on Sunday called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) vow to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg's vacant Supreme Court seat before the next presidential inauguration "superficially hypocritical."

The big picture: Clinton, who nominated Ginsburg to the court in 1993, declined to say whether he thinks Democrats should respond by adding more justices if they take back the Senate and the White House in November. Instead, he called on Republicans to "remember the example Abraham Lincoln set" by not confirming a justice in an election year.

Pelosi: Trump wants to "crush" ACA with Ginsburg replacement

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that President Trump is rushing to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg because he "wants to crush the Affordable Care Act."

Why it matters: Pelosi wants to steer the conversation around the potential Ginsburg replacement to health care, which polls show is a top issue for voters, especially amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Trump administration has urged the courts to strike down the law, and with it, protections for millions with pre-existing conditions.