FCC Implements Johnson’s COVID-19 Telehealth Extension Bill

September 1, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Recently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced award recipients for round two of its COVID-19 Telehealth Program, following the passage of U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson’s (R-S.D.) COVID-19 Telehealth Program Extension Act.

In April 2020, the FCC launched the COVID-19 Telehealth Program authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The program supports health care providers responding to COVID-19 by funding telecommunications services, information services, and the purchase of connected devices necessary to provide critical connected care services to patients at home.

Due to the popularity of the program, on June 25, 2020, the FCC announced it would no longer accept applications from providers. By July, the FCC released the final round of funding to approved applicants, exhausting the original $200 million appropriated for the program.

In July 2020, U.S. Representatives Johnson and Abigail Spanberger (D-V.A.) introduced the COVID-19 Telehealth Program Extension Act to appropriate additional funds to the FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program. This bill was included in the $900 billion COVID-19 relief package that passed in December.

“South Dakota has seen the benefits of expanding telehealth firsthand,” said Johnson. “Additional funding for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program enables health care providers to use technology to meet patients’ needs wherever they are. South Dakota patients deserve quality care, so I’m glad to see the additional funds being used to strengthen telehealth programs in South Dakota and across the country.”

“Sanford Health is grateful for these FCC grant funds, which will help expand telehealth services and bring exceptional care closer to home for those in our rural footprint. These funds will allow us to upgrade our systems and install new wireless access points across our network in the Upper Midwest.” Corey Brown, Sanford Health System Vice President, Government Relations.

South Dakota health care providers were recipients of the program in both rounds.