Reps. Eshoo and Young, Sens. Schatz and Murkowski Urge Greater Transparency on FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program

July 23, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representatives Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) and Don Young (R-AK), along with Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), wrote to the FCC about its COVID-19 Telehealth Program. The lawmakers raised concerns about the FCC’s lack of transparency related to the program and asked several questions about its implementation.

“Telehealth has become an absolutely essential component of our country’s health care system during the coronavirus pandemic, and health care providers without high-quality broadband connections are unable to provide sufficient care to their patients,” said the lawmakers. “We are concerned about the lack of transparency regarding [the COVID-19 Telehealth Program].”

The text of the letter can be found HERE.

Background

The CARES Act appropriated $200 million for the FCC to establish and implement the COVID-19 Telehealth Program. On July 8th the FCC announced that it had exhausted the funding.

The FCC’s lack of transparency was raised at May 19, 2020 briefing at the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology and at a June 24, 2020 oversight hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee.

Eshoo, Young, Schatz, and Murkowski introduced the Healthcare Broadband Expansion During COVID-19 Act (H.R. 6474 and S. 3838), a bicameral and bipartisan bill that calls for $2 billion, an order of magnitude greater than the COVID-19 Telehealth Program, in broadband funding for health care providers. The legislation is broadly supported by over 50 public interest groups; associations of local governments; and telecommunications companies and associations.