September 16, 2019

September 16, 2019

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FCC Seeks Big Role in Telemedicine with New Fund

$100 million in federal funds may soon become available to help health care providers cover the costs of broadband and connected care services.  Earlier this month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted on a proposal, on which it will seek public comment, for a new “Connected Care Pilot Program,” and the comment period on that proposal has now begun.  The proposed program would direct money to telehealth initiatives, especially for medically underserved populations like low-income families and veterans.  The money would come from the Universal Service Fund (USF), which is an existing fund of fees paid by telecommunications service providers currently used for a variety of purposes. 

The details of the new program remain to be worked out.  In the proposal, the FCC seeks comment to help decide on how it should design the new program.  Should it limit its funding to efforts to treat chronic conditions?  Should it restrict participation only to health care providers?  To what extent should the costs of patients’ broadband internet access be covered?  How can the FCC avoid duplication of efforts and funding with existing support programs?  How many projects should it fund with its proposed $100 million, and how should it allocate the money among them?  For projects funded by the program, how much of the cost should be borne by the provider, as opposed to being paid for by the program?  What factors (serving rural areas, serving veterans, treating certain conditions, etc.) should it use in deciding between competing applications?

Health care providers and others are expected to provide responses to these questions in order to help form the FCC’s direction on how funds will be distributed.  The comment period, during which the public can offer those suggestions and respond to others’ comments, runs until September 30.  

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About this Author

Russell H. Fox, Communications Attorney, Mintz Levin, Regulatory Approvals
Member

With over 35 years in the wireless telecommunications industry, Russell is among the most experienced wireless communications attorneys in the country. Unique among his peers, Russell assists clients on federal legislative, regulatory, and transactional matters. He analyzes legislation on behalf of clients, participates in proceedings before the FCC and other federal agencies, negotiates spectrum agreements, and represents wireless providers in spectrum auctions. He is also frequently consulted on matters involving US spectrum use and policy.

Whether they are in the middle of a...

202-434-7483
Associate

Jonathan's communications practice focuses on wireless, cable, and emerging technologies, with a particular emphasis on UAS (commonly known as drones) and the wireless spectrum. He has experience with FCC and FAA procedures and rulemakings, formal and informal complaints, and FCC investigations, as well as filing and prosecuting applications with the FCC and FAA. He also assists clients with foreign government advocacy efforts, particularly in the wireless spectrum arena.

In addition to taking a professional interest in FAA matters, Jonathan is a student pilot.

Prior to joining Mintz, Jonathan worked as an associate at a prominent communications firm in the DC area. There he prepared FCC pleadings, applications, and various other related paperwork for clients, and advised broadcast, wireless, Internet, and trade group clients on FCC, federal, and state laws.

Jonathan is active in Mintz’s pro bono practice, particularly with immigration-related cases. He speaks and reads Spanish and has experience communicating with clients exclusively in Spanish.

During his time at the University of Michigan Law School, Jonathan was an associate editor for the Michigan Telecommunications and Technology Law Review.

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