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FCC Adds $198 Million to Strengthen Telehealth for Rural Healthcare Providers

Client Alert

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has added an additional $198 million in funding to its Rural Health Care Program. These funds will be used to increase broadband services and telecommunications to bolster telehealth/telemedicine services for rural healthcare providers. Funding for rural healthcare providers was initially capped at $605 million in 2020, but the added funds will now allow the FCC to provide over $800 million to eligible providers.

Telehealth, in direct response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, has undergone a massive expansion since March. Telehealth encounters are up exponentially as patients look for a safe, socially distant, option to receive health care services and providers try to keep vital hospital space available for COVID-19 care. Technical barriers, such as the lack of a strong broadband infrastructure, has limited the wide adoption of telehealth in rural areas. The FCC aims to combat the technical limitations, as this funding will help improve technology platforms and internet connectivity, so that patients have expanded access to affordable and efficient care. 

Eligible providers for the Rural Health Care Program include:

  1. post-secondary educational institutions offering health care instruction, teaching hospitals, and medical schools;
  2. community health centers or health centers providing health care to migrants;
  3. local health departments or agencies;
  4. community mental health centers;
  5. not-for-profit hospitals;
  6. rural health clinics;
  7. skilled nursing facilities; and
  8. a combination of health care providers consisting of one or more entities falling into the first seven categories.

Please contact your primary BMD Healthcare & Hospital Law Group attorney if you have any questions regarding the Rural Health Care Program, this additional funding and how to apply for the use of funds, or any other general healthcare questions.


LGBTQIA+ Patients and Discrimination in Healthcare

In early April, the Kaiser Family Foundation released a study outlining the challenges that LGBT adults face in the United States related to healthcare. According to the study, LGBT patients are “twice as likely as non-LGBT adults to report negative experiences while receiving health care in the last three years, including being treated unfairly or with disrespect (33% v. 15%) or having at least one of several other negative experiences with a provider (61% v. 31%), including a provider assuming something about them without asking, suggesting they were personally to blame for a health problem, ignoring a direct request or question, or refusing to prescribe needed pain medication.”

Ohio Recovery Housing Overhaul: New Standards and Certification Requirements Reshape Sober Living Spaces

Ensuring Fair Access: SB 269 Protects Affordable Medication for Low-Income Patients

SB 269, introduced on December 19, 2023, will ensure that 340B covered entities, including Federally Qualified Health Centers, Ryan White Clinics, disproportionate share hospitals, and Title X clinics, can acquire 340B drugs without facing undue restrictions or discriminatory practices from drug manufacturers and distributors. This protection is crucial for 340B covered entities to continue to provide affordable medications and comprehensive services to low-income patients.

Unveiling Ohio's Pharmacy Board Updates for Distributors, Mobile Clinics, and Controlled Substances

The Ohio Board of Pharmacy will hold a public hearing on May 28, 2024, to discuss several proposed changes and additions to Ohio Administrative Code (OAC). These changes pertain to terminal distributors of dangerous drugs (TDDDs), mobile clinics or medication units, and the classification of controlled substances.

House Bill 249: Key Updates to Involuntary Hospitalization Law for Mental Health Providers

House Bill 249 (HB 249) proposes changes to Ohio Revised Code (ORC) Sections 5122.01 and 5122.10 to expand the conditions under which a person with a mental illness can be involuntarily hospitalized.