A1: RHC accepts the FCC Form 465 for posting typically beginning in late March or early April for the upcoming funding year, and will accept them until June 30th of the following year (as an example, RHC opened Funding Year 2010 on March 15, 2010 and will accept applications until June 30, 2011). The date for "window opening," or the date when RHC begins accepting FCC Forms 465 for the upcoming funding year, is posted on the RHC homepage and announced well in advance. To ensure a full year of support, applicants should post their FCC Forms 465 before June 1st.
A2: In most cases, FCC Forms 465 must be posted on the USAC website for at least 28 days before a health care provider (HCP) may select a service provider. This ensures that service providers interested in providing the service have an opportunity to contact the HCP. After an HCP selects a service provider, the applicant must fill out and submit an FCC Form 466 before a funding commitment can be issued. Once a funding commitment is issued, the HCP submits FCC Form 467 to confirm the Service Start Date. USAC will then arrange for the selected service provider to begin providing the discounted service.
A4: This information should be entered in Block 4, Line 33: "Actual Rural Rate per Month."
A5: The urban rate can be found in the Urban Rate's Search on the website. Alternatively, an HCP can choose to calculate its own urban rate. An urban rate must be for a functionally similar service in any city with a population of 50,000 or more in your state, with identical terms (i.e., if the HCP has a three-year contract, then a three-year contract rate must be used in calculating the urban rate). The circuit distance must be equal to the Standard Urban Distance for your state.
A6: E-certification can be enabled by using your HCP number and password to log into My Portal. Your "e-cert status" is shown at the top. If it is enabled, the name of the person who enabled the e-certification and the date it was enabled appear. If it is not yet enabled, click on the link to enable it.
Once e-certification has been enabled, look under "Form 466 Status Info." You will only have the option of creating a new FCC Form 466 using data pre-filled from the previous funding year if:
You created an FCC Form 466 using a blank form.
After you have created the form, fill in the necessary information on each page and click "Submit." You will see a confirmation of your FCC Form 466 submission. The contact person associated with that HCP number will receive an email confirming that RHC received an e-certified FCC Form 466.
A8: Make sure to complete the process by sending RHC the documentation necessary to process your form. Label the documents with your HCP number.
A9: For the rural rate, RHC will accept a copy of a telephone bill, a copy of the signed service agreement with the service provider, or a letter from the service provider on company letterhead. Any of these items must contain the health care provider's name and location, type of service, and cost.
Documentation of the urban rate will require an explanation of how the rate was calculated. RHC recommends viewing the guidelines for calculating urban rates. The copy of the contract must bear two signatures, one from the service provider and the other from the HCP. The circuit diagram should show RHC how the circuit(s) for the HCP is/are connected, as well as the service provider(s) involved. Labels for the circuits (such as circuit ID and/or service type), relevant place names and addresses, and textual explanations are most helpful. Hand-drawn circle and stick diagrams are acceptable if they clearly show and label the information listed above.
A10: No. A photocopy of the bill will suffice. RHC does not require that the bill bear anyone's signature. The bill must be from the current funding year.
A11: Supporting documentation should be submitted online through My Portal.
A12: Forms must be received by RHC in time to meet program year requirements. The absolute deadline to submit an FCC Form 466 is June 30, the end of the funding year. Although FCC Forms 465 and 466 may be filed at any time during the funding year, all forms received by RHC during the form Filing Window will be treated as if they had arrived on the same day for purposes of funding priority.
A13: In most cases, the FCC Form 465 must be posted on the RHC website for 28 days to become eligible to receive support during the upcoming funding year. Therefore, an HCP with existing service should submit its FCC Form 465 for the upcoming funding year so that it can be posted for 28 days prior to the July 1 start of the funding year.
A14: Electronic certification, or e-certification is an electronic, mutually agreed-upon substitute for a person's actual physical signature. A document signed by this method carries the same weight as one signed by hand.
A15: The forms used for RHC's application process have always required paper submission, bearing an original signature. But e-certification allows an authorized individual to submit FCC forms electronically, removing the need to submit paper copies. Applications electronically certified and submitted will automatically be posted to the RHC website and applicants will receive electronic notification of a successful e-certified posting.
A16: Authorized individuals for HCPs that have successfully posted an FCC Form 465 are eligible to e-certify.
A17: To enable e-certification, an authorized individual needs the HCP number and password of the HCP for which the e-certification will be enabled.
A19: When you enable the electronic certification, it will be tied to both the health care provider for whom you are applying as well as the authorized individual applying on behalf of the HCP. The use of this electronic certification is the equivalent of the authorized person's actual signature for the health care provider. Since it represents the signature of an individual, no other person can use it.
A20: In the RHC Program section of the website, click on "My Portal." This will allow you to log into the RHC site to submit your form. Once logged in, you will see two options for the FCC Form 465: "Create Form 465," and "Create Form 465 (E-Signature)." In order to submit electronically, choose the "E-Signature" option.
A21: The person listed as the contact on the FCC Form 465 will receive a confirmation by email verifying that the form was and is posted on the RHC website. The email confirmation will contain your allowable contract date and the date on which an agreement can be made with a service provider. In the event that you have no email address on file, a paper confirmation will be sent to the contact mailing address. You can also verify the posting by going to the "Search Postings" area of the RHC website.
A22: Go to the "E-certification" section of the RHC website and click on "Forgot My Password." You will be prompted for the verification answer you supplied when you enabled the e-certification. If the correct answer is provided, you will be shown your password.
A23: Disabling the e-certification removes the ability to sign and submit forms electronically. The password will remain in effect and simply function as a login password, allowing you access to the HCPs' area. You will be able to log in to the RHC site to check the status of your application, fill out forms online, or change the password; however, since the electronic certification is disabled, you will be required to print out and send in the forms by mail.
A24: Public or nonprofit HCPs are eligible to receive discounted telecommunications services. Eligible HCPs must also be located in a rural area and fit into one of the eligible categories determined by the FCC. Contact the Customer Service Support Center if you are unsure about eligibility.
A26: Yes. Each separate site or location of an HCP is considered an individual applicant and has its own HCP number for purposes of calculating support. Therefore, each facility located in a rural area would potentially be eligible to receive discounted services regardless of whether the headquarters is located in an urban area.
A27: Pursuant to Section 54.615(c)(4) of the FCC's rules, an HCP must certify that supported service will be used solely for purposes necessary for the provision of health care or health care instruction. Services that are used for purposes other than health care or health care instruction cannot be supported. This includes services that are used by an HCP for non-health care related purposes, or services that are shared with an entity that is ineligible for Rural Health Care (RHC) Program support, such as a school. library or for-profit hospital.
An HCP that uses a percentage of its services for non-health care related purposes may, however, still apply for support by designating on the FCC Form 466 the percentage of service(s) used for health care or health care instruction and the percentage of non-health care related services. RHC Program support would then be prorated for the eligible services. Likewise, HCPs that share services with an ineligible entity may still apply for RHC Program support. On the FCC Form 466, the HCP should designate its percentage of service(s) used and the percentage of service(s) used by the ineligible entity. RHC Program support would then be prorated for eligible services used by the HCP.
A28: Any telecommunications service which is used primarily for the provision of health care. These telecommunications services include, but are not limited to:
Special construction and maintenance charges are not eligible for support. Franchises, zone charges, and surcharges are not eligible for support. Taxes, as a percentage of the cost paid on a telecommunications service, are eligible for support.
A29: Yes. For telecommunications services, if a difference exists between the charges for the same or similar services in the rural versus the urban location, and the rural is more costly, the difference is supported.
A30: Support is available for applicable distance-based charges (minus the Standard Urban Distance) for the distance between the rural HCP and the farthest point on the jurisdictional boundary of the largest city in the HCP's state. If an eligible rural HCP chooses to connect to a point beyond this Maximum Allowable Distance (MAD), it must pay the appropriate unsupported rate for any distance-based charges incurred beyond the MAD. There is no requirement, however, that the HCP choose service that connects to the largest city. The support that would have been available to the largest city may be applied to a service that connects to any other area, including in another state. Support is not available for long-distance per minute toll charges.
A32: Beginning in January 2014, the Telecommunications Program only provides telecommunications services and support. Applicants currently receiving support for Internet access and new applicants can apply for support for Internet access services through the Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Program, the newest component of the Rural Health Care Program. The HCF Program will provide a 65 percent discount on eligible expenses related to broadband connectivity to both individual rural health care providers (HCPs) and consortia, which can include non-rural HCPs (if the consortium has a majority of rural sites).
A33: No. An eligible rural HCP may receive support for as many services as it can use for the provision of health care.
A34: Yes. An eligible rural HCP may elect to use a supported connection to link to a site in a rural area but is subject to the distance limitations discussed concerning the largest city in the HCPs' state.
A36: No. Eligible HCPs will benefit from universal service support through a discount on telecommunications bills for eligible services.
A37: Yes. The FCC recognized that HCPs will often be able to negotiate better rates for multi-year contracts and encouraged HCPs to negotiate such contracts. However, since RHC can only commit funds to cover one year of the contract, HCPs must submit an application for each funding year.
A38: No. The 1996 Telecom Act states that eligible HCPs are prohibited from reselling supported telecommunications services for money or anything of value. This prohibition against resale does not, however, prohibit an HCP from charging normal fees for health care services, including instruction related to such services rendered via telecommunications purchased through the universal service mechanisms.
A39: Rural HCPs must file the following forms:
A40: FCC Forms (465, 466, and 467) can be completed electronically in My Portal.
A41: RHC's telecommunications services provide support for monthly mileage-based charges minus the Standard Urban Distance (SUD) or for the difference between the rural and urban rate for non-mileage based charges.
A42: The urban rate is the rate charged by a telecommunications carrier for the same or similar service offered in a city with a population of 50,000 or more in the HCP's state. The urban rate should have the same or similar terms and conditions as the rural rate. The urban rate is determined by the telecommunications carrier that provides the service in the urban area.
A43: Once a rural HCP informs RHC that it has an agreement for service (by filing the FCC Form 466), RHC will allocate support for that service for the duration of the funding year. If tariffed or contract rates decrease, the HCP must re-file the FCC Form 466 so RHC can reduce the support level accordingly. If the tariffed or contract rates increase during the year, the HCP may re-file the FCC Form 466 to reflect the new rate. Such parties will be allocated additional support only if universal service funds remain for allocation during the funding year. Otherwise, the original support amount will be continued for the remainder of the funding year.
A44: In My Portal, access is provided to an individual (not the HCP), so USAC needs to verify and provide new User IDs and passwords to all authorized account holders.
A45: My Portal allows an HCP to store account information year after year. USAC must ensure account holders are authorized to access an HCP's information, since some documents may contain sensitive information such as contracts or bills.
A46: Click on My Portal and select "log in here." Type in your user ID (email address) and temporary password. You will be prompted to change your password. After changing your password, you will have to log in again using your new password, and then accept the terms and conditions regarding access to My Portal. An online tutorial for pre-registered users can be found in the Online Learning Library.
A47: Your new password must be a minimum of six characters and include at least one non-alphanumeric character (i.e., !,@,#,$). Please note passwords are also case-sensitive.
A48: In My Portal, consultants are registered as secondary account holders with full rights once they verify they are authorized to file forms on behalf of an HCP. They can do this by submitting documentation such as a Letter of Agency (LOA) or a contract. The signer of the LOA is registered as the primary account holder for the HCP unless they expressly request another employee of the HCP to act as the primary account holder (see question 50). Secondary account holders with full rights are considered consultants that can do anything a primary account holder can, such as certify, sign, and submit applications; but are unable to add, modify, delete, or otherwise manage account holder rights.
A49: Yes. The LOA signer can add additional secondary account holders and reassign their primary account holder rights to another employee of the HCP (or its parent organization) in My Portal by going to "My Account Settings." Consultants cannot be primary account holders. Simply enter the new account holder's information in the fields.
A50: The contract, letter of agency/agreement, or other document should include the following information:
A51: Consultants can upload documents on the FCC Form 465 Block 6 Certification tab. If you do not submit documentation when you submit an FCC Form 465 for an HCP, you will receive an email with a document request link that can be used to upload the LOA. You will also be able to submit the LOA using a document request link under the "My Documents" tab.
A52: A consultant who is registered as an account holder for other HCPs can click on the "Add HCP" button in the "My HCPs" tab. Enter the zip code of the new HCP and if it shows up on the search results as an available, or new HCP, the consultant may submit an FCC Form 465 for that HCP.
A53: In most cases, yes. However, as secondary account holders, consultants do not have the ability to add new account holders. Consultants should contact the RHC Help Desk at (800) 453-1546 for assistance.