US Senate News:
Source: United States Senator for West Virginia Joe Manchin
March 31, 2021
Charleston, WV – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) applauded the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision to launch the second round of the COVID-19 Telehealth Program which provides $249.95 million to support telehealth services through healthcare providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. In January, Senator Manchin led a bipartisan letter to the FCC asking the agency to prioritize small, rural healthcare providers that were left out of the first round of funding.
“I’m thrilled the FCC has announced the second round of this successful program to ensure more West Virginia healthcare providers have another chance to apply for this vital funding, and I applaud the FCC for prioritizing small, rural providers that need the most help in this next round. The first round of the COVID-19 Telehealth Program helped several West Virginia healthcare providers adjust to a new care system during the COVID-19 pandemic, including telephone and video-based appointments,” Senator Manchin said. “Last year, my office helped more than a dozen West Virginia healthcare providers navigate the application process and wrote letters of support, but only five providers were chosen to receive the funding. That is why I fought to include this second round of the program in the year-end spending package. As we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, this funding will help healthcare providers adapt to telehealth services and continue to provide quality care to West Virginians and I look forward to helping more providers in the Mountain State receive these funds.”
“Our state’s Congressional delegation has been a staunch advocate for broadband and telehealth expansion, and ensuring that the FCC allocates funding for COVID-19 telehealth projects equitably is just the most recent example of that advocacy,” Sherri Ferrell, CEO of the West Virginia Primary Care Association, said. “West Virginia’s community health centers appreciate the opportunity to compete for funding to expand or improve telehealth services for the state’s most rural citizens.”
“We want to thank Senator Manchin and the entire West Virginia delegation for their support of hospitals, especially during our fight against COVID-19. Throughout the past year, we have seen how important telehealth services are for the citizens of West Virginia in providing access to care. However, we often face challenges in providing these services due to equipment and infrastructure limitations, so today’s announcement by the FCC to establish Round 2 of the COVID-19 Telehealth Program is a great opportunity to address these gaps through support for projects large and small,” said Jim Kaufman, President and CEO of the West Virginia Hospital Association.
Last year, as a member of the Financial Services & General Government (FSGG) Appropriations Subcommittee which oversees the FCC’s budget, Senator Manchin supported $200 million for the telehealth pilot program, the COVID-19 Telehealth Program, in the CARES Act. Senator Manchin also ensured West Virginia healthcare providers were aware of the funding and assisted with applications. Senator Manchin fought to include a second round of this program in the year-end spending package and in January, he led a bipartisan group of Senators in calling on the FCC to prioritize rural healthcare providers in the COVID-19 Telehealth Program.
The FCC is expected to begin accepting applications for the second round of the COVID-19 Telehealth Program within 30 days. Applications will be received during a week-long filing window. For more information visit, https://www.fcc.gov/covid-19-telehealth-program.