The government's new telehealth program will allow healthcare providers broadband connectivity and devices that will allow patients to get care they need remotely, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said Wednesday.
"This is a game-changer for American healthcare providers and America's patients," Pai said on Fox News' "Fox and Friends."
He explained that the CARES Act, or the third phase of the coronavirus relief package, gave the FCC the authority and $200 million in funding to set up a telehealth program, and on Tuesday, the agency adopted his plan to set it up. It will be useful for both people who are experiencing coronavirus symptoms and others who do not want to enter a doctor's office and risk infection from being close to ill people, Pai said.
By using the telemedicine capability, that will keep many people with COVID-19 symptoms from needing to go into a doctor's office and endanger other patients, said Pai.
"This protects healthcare providers as well as patients," Pai said. "Even for patients who don't have the coronavirus, if they want to be treated without coming to a healthcare facility, this is the kind of application that enables them to get the care they need while practicing social distancing."
Meanwhile, Pai said he and President Donald Trump spoke to the heads of the nation's telecommunications industry, and while the pandemic is going on, internet service will not be disconnected for non-payment of services.
"One of the things I outlined was the Keep America Connected pledge," Pai said, pointing out that more information is available through the FCC's website about the program. "This pledge, which has now been signed by 653 broadband providers, would prevent these companies from cutting off anybody from service if they have an inability to pay their bills because of the pandemic."
He noted that the pledge also prevents people from being charged late fees, and will open wifi hotspots to anyone who needs them in the United States, he said.
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