New York state is launching a $3 million grant program meant to boost new technologies that would expand and improve access to telehealth services, the use of which has become more prominent amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

The program is meant to provide funding supporting for community health providers to buy equipment for telehealth services and create access spaces in locations like libraries, homeless shelters and pharmacies. The state will also award $150,000 in grants to 10 regions of the state that will be matched with philanthropic backing for the Rockfellefer Philanthropy Advisors. 

"Every New Yorker should have access to high-quality health care no matter where they live," Hochul said. "Telehealth is an important tool that brings health care to underserved communities and saves New Yorkers both time and money. Through these investments, we are working to make sure that everyone has access to high-quality health care and can see their doctor." 

The pandemic has led to an expanded use of telehealth and telemedicine services, but many poorer communities may not have easy access to the programs. The state budget approved earlier this year made it easier for the adoption of telehealth, especially for mental health and substance abuse service providers.

"Telehealth is a critical component to the future of health care in New York State," said Kristine Proud, the acting executive deputy commissioner at the state Department of Health. "By expanding access to telehealth, we are removing barriers that will help expand the care and treatment New Yorkers need and deserve in a timely manner. These investments will also provide high quality and reliable care to historically underserved communities, increasing equity and helping to close the gaps in health care."