Trade Group Offers Guidance On Designing A Cost-Effective Program
For Immediate Release
Contact: Ted Hearn
PITTSBURGH, September 12, 2018 – The American Cable Association filed comments in support of the Federal Communications Commission’s “connected care” pilot program, which will enable low-income consumers to receive telehealth services beyond the walls of a hospital or doctor’s office. ACA offered suggestions for ensuring opportunities exist for local, facilities-based providers to participate in pilot projects and for avoiding government subsidized overbuilding.
“FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr is to be commended for his leadership on the new ‘connected care’ pilot program,” ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said. “The program offers a great opportunity for the FCC to try out different models for meeting an emerging health care need while ensuring scarce Universal Service Fund (USF) dollars are allocated fairly and efficiently.”
Through techniques such as remote patient monitoring, the proposed “connected care” pilot program seeks to improve health outcomes while driving down costs.
“In the FCC’s design of the program, ACA encourages it to leverage to the greatest extent possible the investments that local, facilities-based providers, including smaller providers such as ACA members, have made to deliver broadband service to their communities,” said ACA’s Polka. “ACA also encourages the FCC to uphold its core USF principles by preventing the use of pilot program funds on deployment of broadband facilities to locations already served by an unsubsidized competitor.”
To achieve these objectives, ACA advises the FCC to incorporate the following ideas into its design of the pilot program:
• With respect to providing low-income patients the broadband connectivity they need to receive care under a pilot project when the needed service is already available from existing broadband providers, allow program funds to be administered in the form of e-vouchers that patients could use on their choice of broadband service from one of these providers;
• Establish a Request for Proposal (RFP) process for the creation of any formal partnerships between a health care provider applicant and broadband provider, and require health care providers to give existing local broadband providers the right to match its provisionally selected bid in the RFP process; and
• Make the broadband provider eligibility requirements as flexible as possible.
ACA encouraged the FCC to exclusively follow these proposals, or at least experiment with them, as it develops the pilot program.
“The ‘connected care’ pilot program must also ensure fiscal responsibility,” ACA’s Polka said. “ACA is pleased the FCC has proposed and sought comment on a budget for the pilot program. As FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly observes, the USF budget is finite, and it is imperative the FCC consider the overall budgetary impact of the new program on USF.”
About the American Cable Association: Based in Pittsburgh, the American Cable Association is a trade organization representing about 800 smaller and medium-sized, independent companies that provide broadband, phone and video services to nearly 8 million customers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America. Through active participation in the regulatory and legislative process in Washington, D.C., ACA’s members work together to advance the interests of their customers and ensure the future competitiveness and viability of their business. For more information, visit: https://acaconnects.org/