American Board of Telehealth offers online certificate program

The American Board of Telehealth is offering a online certificate program called the CORE (clinical, operational, regulatory and ethics) Concepts in Telehealth. The organization also offers teleprimary care and telebehavioral health certificate programs.

HRSA awards $19 million for telehealth

The Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) awarded $19 million in grants to 36 recipients to improve telehealth in rural and underserved communities. The largest awards of $3,250,000 each went to two academic medical centers (the University of Mississippi Medical Center and the Medical University of South Carolina) for the establishment of telehealth centers of excellence (COEs). The intent is that the COEs will assess strategies to use telehealth to improve health care in rural medically underserved areas, establish an evidence base for telehealth programs, serve as incubators to pilot new telehealth services and publish research on outcomes for telehealth.


Applicants for the Telehealth Technology-Enabled Learning Program were awarded $4,242,350 to build sustainable tele-mentoring programs and networks in rural and medically underserved communities. The purpose of the program is to connect specialists at academic medical centers with primary care providers in rural and other underserved areas to help treat patients with complex conditions, including long-haul COVID and substance use disorders. These awards will go to the American Academy of Pediatrics and eight academic and research institutions. Two national telehealth resource centers in Alaska and California each received $325,000 in grants, with twelve awards totaling $3,900,000 going to regional telehealth resource centers. The two national centers will provide expert resources on telehealth policy (including reimbursement, licensing and privacy) and telehealth technology. The regional resource centers will provide assistance to organizations providing telehealth services to patients, focusing on local community needs. Finally, eleven awards totaling $3,812,826 will be directed to the Evidence-Based Direct to Consumer Telehealth Network Program.

Illinois expands access to telehealth services and mandates certain insurance coverage

A new Illinois law, P.A. 102-0104 effective July 22, 2021, expands and modernizes the definition of telehealth services. The law also requires insurers issuing individual or group policies in the state after the effective date to cover certain types of telehealth services. (As with most state insurance regulation, self-funded employer plans would not be affected.)


Telehealth was defined in prior law as the evaluation, diagnosis or interpretation of electronically transmitted patient-specific data between a remote location and a licensed health care professional that generates interaction or treatment recommendations. The new definition of telehealth services retains this definition, but adds a specific reference to mental health treatment and substance use disorder treatment services to a patient, regardless of patient location. The definition of telehealth services also includes asynchronous store and forward systems, remote patient monitoring technologies, e-visits and virtual check-ins. An asynchronous store and forward system involves transmission of a patient's medical information through electronic communications from an originating site to a health care professional or facility at a distant site that does not include real-time interaction. Remote patient monitoring means the use of connected digital technologies or mobile medical devices to collect medical and other health data from a patient at one location and electronically transmit the data to a health care professional or facility at a different location.

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Australia continues expanded telehealth coverage until December 31, 2021

The Australian government appropriated an additional AUS$114 million to extend coverage of telehealth services until the end of calendar year 2021. Expanded telehealth coverage had originally been scheduled to expire on June 30, 2021.

FCC will start accepting telehealth grant applications on April 29

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that applications for grants through the COVID-19 Telehealth Program will be accepted beginning on Thursday, April 29, 2021 at noon. The filing window will be open for seven calendar days. Funding available in Round 2 is a total of $249.95 million. As explained in our prior article, applications will be prioritized according to the metrics announced by the FCC.

MedPAC recommends temporary retention of some telehealth coverage after the pandemic

In its most recent report to Congress on Medicare payment policy, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) recommended that some of the expansions to Medicare coverage of telehealth instituted during the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) be retained for one to two years after the PHE ends, so that the impact of telehealth on access, quality and cost can be assessed. MedPAC recommends that after the end of the PHE, Medicare should return to paying the facility rate for telehealth services, and no longer permit providers to reduce or waive cost sharing for beneficiaries. Also, it recommends that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) should implement safeguards to protect against potential fraud relating to telehealth.

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FCC opens new round of telehealth grants

On March 30, 2021, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a second round of funding for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program (the Program). The Consolidated Appropriations Act enacted in December 2020 appropriated $249.95 million for the Program, in addition to the $200 million which had been awarded in Round 1. There are substantial changes in procedures for Round 2 in comparison to Round 1. Rather than accepting applications on a rolling basis, the FCC will establish a seven-day application window. The FCC has established metrics to be followed for prioritizing and evaluating applications, and has announced the intention to fund applicants from each state and territory to the extent feasible. Finally, the new procedures will include a process for notifying a potentially unsuccessful applicant of the intent to deny its application, allowing the applicant to submit additional information.

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