WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced that four Mississippi providers will receive more than $1.74 million from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to expand telehealth services during the coronavirus health emergency.
The University of Mississippi Medical Center, Leland Medical Center, Region 8 Mental Health Services in Brandon, and the Franklin County Memorial Hospital in Meadville will receive funding from the FCC COVID-19 Telehealth Program, which was authorized in the CARES Act.
“The FCC recognizes the importance of strengthening telehealth capabilities as providers work to treat coronavirus patients while continuing to provide other medical services. I’m grateful for these new FCC resources and hope to see more, Mississippi was a leader in telemedicine services before the pandemic, and these grants should work to build on that success,” Hyde-Smith said.
Mississippi recipients of COVID-19 Telehealth Program awards include:
·University of Mississippi Medical Center/UMMC Consortium, Jackson – $1,000,000 for connected devices, laptops, network equipment and upgrades, software licenses, and other telehealth equipment to help develop a telemedicine COVID-19 Triage Solution. The program will consist of skilled medical, technical, and support staff using new technological capabilities to perform screenings and medical assessments, schedule testing appointments, and conduct outreach regarding COVID-19 testing results, as well as immediate expansion of non-COVID-19 telehealth services to meet both urgent and routine health needs.
·Leland Medical Center, Leland – $448,442 for telemedicine desktop computers, laptop computers, mobile hotspots, and network upgrades for the treatment and monitoring of COVID-19 patients and for the treatment of mental health, substance abuse, opioid dependency, and chronic disease management (such as, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer) using telehealth.
·Franklin County Memorial Hospital, Meadville – $262,934 for telemedicine carts, servers and additional equipment to remotely diagnose, treat, and monitor patients who are unable to receive care on-site due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
·Region 8 Mental Health Services, Brandon – $32,349 for laptops, mobile hotspots, a telehealth platform, and other telehealth equipment to continue to offer remote diagnosis, family and individual therapy, psychiatric evaluations, and other medical services to rural areas of Mississippi during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The FCC telehealth funding is in addition to funding previously released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) coronavirus resources delivered to rural hospitals and community health centers for telehealth and other services.
Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, has actively promoted policies to expand the use of telehealth to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. She argued for more flexible telehealth policies in the CARES Act.
In late April, Hyde-Smith also helped lead the successful effort to convince HHS and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to increase telephone-based, or audio-only, telehealth reimbursements to equal other audio-visual telehealth and in-person visitation reimbursements. Without that change, CMS reimbursements would have remained markedly lower for telephone consultations than for audio-visual telehealth and in-person visitations.