As the COVID-19 pandemic has grown, most U.S. states have implemented measures to reduce people's face-to-face interactions in hopes of curbing the spread of the disease. However, those who are self-isolating may still need medical attention. Fortunately, there is a way to provide some forms of care patients while they remain in the comfort of their homes -- telemedicine.
And to ensure that telehealth services are available to as many people as possible during this crisis, the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday initiated a $200 million program to fund telehealth services for medical providers. Funding for this program will come from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was officially signed into law on March 27. Said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai:
With the adoption of the $200 million COVID-19 Telehealth Program, the FCC can now take immediate steps to provide funding so that more patients can be treated at home, freeing up valuable hospital beds for those who most need them and reducing the risk of exposure to the virus.
Demand for telemedicine services has skyrocketed over the past few weeks. Teladoc Health (NYSE:TDOC) -- one of the leading providers -- recently announced that it had experienced a significant increase in patient visit volume. And given that the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. is only getting worse, the demand for these services will likely continue to rise. In light of that, it isn't surprising that Teladoc's stock has performed much better than the broader market of late. Year to date, shares of the healthcare company are up by 87.4%, while the S&P 500 is down by 21.8%.