The Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to maximize telehealth’s ability to improve health outcomes, care delivery, and cost effectiveness.

CCHP Newsroom

  • FCC Votes to Waive $400k Funding Cap on Rural Telehealth Program for FY17

    Beckers Hospital Review

    The Federal Communications Commission launched a review of its telehealth-focused Rural Health Care Program Dec. 14. The Rural Health Care Program provides eligible healthcare providers with funding for broadband and telecommunications services that enhance high-quality care. However, the FCC anticipates demand for the program is likely to exceed its allocated funding, which is capped at $400 million per year. Under the order adopted by the FCC Dec. 14, the agency waived the Rural Health Care Program's annual funding cap on a one-time basis. The agency instructed the Universal Service Administrative Co. — an independent nonprofit designated by the FCC — to carry over unused program funds from prior years for use in fiscal year 2017, which runs through June 30, 2018. The FCC is also seeking public comments on whether to permanently increase the Rural Health Care Program's $400 million funding cap. "With a broadband connection, healthcare providers in small-town America can deliver the same quality of healthcare as those in our nation's big cities," said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who released the proposal to increase program funding Nov. 22. "The FCC can and does promote this potential."

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  • BREAKING: FCC repeals net neutrality rules, potentially affecting telemedicine

    Modern Healthcare

    The FCC voted 3-2 Thursday to repeal net neutrality rules, ending Obama-era regulations that prohibited Internet providers from blocking or slowing web content. Whereas all Internet traffic previously shared same "lane," it can now be split among different lanes with different speeds. Those differing speeds could hurt telemedicine since it requires a "pretty robust connection," said Mei Kwong, interim executive director and policy advisor for the Center for Connected Health Policy. "The last thing you want is for the interaction to suddenly freeze or the audio to go out or for the picture to be pixelated."  Though the FCC could make exceptions for healthcare so it's not subject to the same rules, Kwong and others said, that might still leave patients to fend for themselves.  "What do you do then for the individual who's at home and trying to get services at home?" Kwong asked.  These changes run counter to some recent VA efforts to expand telemedicine, she said. They also run counter to what the majority of Americans want, FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn said Thursday. "Those very same broadband Internet service providers that the majority says you should trust to do right by you will put profits and shareholders returns above what is best for you," she said.  "When the current protections are abandoned, and the rules that have been officially in place since 2015 are repealed, we will have a Cheshire cat version of net neutrality," Clyburn said. "We will be in a world where regulatory substance fades to black and all that is left is a broadband provider's toothy grin."

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  • FCC's Net Neutrality Change May Have Big Implications for Telehealth

    California Health Care Foundation

    At the December 14, 2017, open commission meeting of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), commissioners will vote on whether to repeal current net neutrality rules. Such action may have wide-reaching impacts on the use of telehealth. Community health clinics, such as federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) and rural health centers (RHCs), could see higher rates for connectivity that may reduce, eliminate, or discourage them from using telehealth to deliver health care services, especially in rural areas. Additionally, telehealth in the home could be severely curtailed as consumers may face higher prices for connectivity that would be sufficient for a telehealth interaction.  Removal of net neutrality rules could negatively impact several other pieces of telehealth policy that have gained traction in recent months at the federal level. The Department of Veterans Affairs has shown increasing interest in using telehealth regardless of where the provider and patient are located. This has been signaled by House passage of HR 2123, recent introduction in the Senate of the Veterans Community Care and Access Act of 2017, and proposed regulatory changes in the program.

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