Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), awarded $20 million to increase telehealth access and infrastructure for providers and families to help prevent and respond to COVID-19. The funds will increase capability, capacity and access to telehealth and distant care services for providers, pregnant women, children, adolescents and families, and will assist telehealth providers with cross-state licensure to improve access to health care during the pandemic.
“This new funding will help expand telehealth infrastructure that is already being used during the pandemic to provide essential care, especially to the most vulnerable, including pregnant women and children with special health care needs,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “This funding will also help clinicians use telehealth nationally by streamlining the process to obtain multi-state licensure. With the significant flexibilities President Trump has provided around telehealth payments and technology, plus state actions around licensing, we have created historic opportunities for care to be delivered safely and conveniently via telehealth.”
HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) awarded a total of $15 million to four recipients. Each award supports a key area in maternal and child health: pediatric care, maternal health care, state public health systems and family engagement for children with special health care needs. These investments will:
- Provide telehealth care for adolescents and young adults; expand telehealth services for children with special health care needs and help community-based pediatric practices unaccustomed to telehealth develop capacity to meet the needs of their practices, particularly in rural and underserved areas.
- Support access to services and supports via telehealth such as virtual doula care, remote pregnancy monitoring and other evidence-based practices for delivering trauma-informed perinatal and behavioral health care.
- Support development of policies, systems and effective practices to deliver and support telehealth to maternal and child health populations across each state as well as develop the telehealth infrastructure for newborn screening systems and evidence-based early childhood home visiting.
- Expand telehealth services for families of children with special health care needs through trainings for families and national family organizations on accessing telehealth, including for routine care and services they’re not accustomed to accessing virtually.
HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) awarded a total of $5 million to two recipients through the Licensure Portability Grant Program. This investment will assist telehealth clinicians nationally on licensure and credentialing to meet the emerging needs with the COVID-19 public health emergency. Recipients will work with professional and state licensing boards and national compacts to develop a streamlined process for telehealth clinicians to obtain multi-state licensure.
“Our efforts today reduce burden on clinicians and improve the speed at which clinical sites will be able to provide additional telehealth services,” said HRSA Administrator Tom Engels. “The dedicated work of these program recipients will help keep our nation’s families healthy and strong.”
President Trump signed into law the fiscal year 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act on Friday, March 27, to fund these awards.