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4/21/2015E-File Outage Due to System Maintenance: Thursday, April 23


USAC's E-File system, including My Portal, will be unavailable Thursday, April 23, from 9:00-11:59 PM EDT, for system maintenance. Online forms will not be accessible for contributors, service providers, or participants in the High Cost, Lifeline, Rural Health Care, and Schools and Libraries programs. During this time, users may be unable to file, certify, and search for certain forms online. We apologize for any inconvenience.

4/9/2015HCF Program: My Portal Software Updates


The Rural Health Care (RHC) Program deploys software updates to improve usability and functionality in My Portal, the RHC Program's online application management system. These updates include features that will expedite the application review process and help applicants maintain RHC Program compliance. Many enhancements are based on feedback from applicants.


The following updates are only applicable to the Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Program.

New Site and Service Substitution Functionality
Site and service substitutions allow applicants to reallocate un-invoiced funds within commitments, subject to the terms of their contract and the Request for Proposal (RFP) associated with the commitment. Substitutions allow the flexibility to ensure that all of the committed funds on an approved FCC Form 462 can be spent, even though USAC-supported services may change over the course of a commitment.


Applicants can now perform site and service substitutions within My Portal by clicking the “Substitution” button on the “Form 462” tab. Through My Portal, applicants can modify the expense items on approved FCC Forms 462, including the eligible expense information on existing line items for service upgrades or changes and the financial information. Substitution modifications cannot change the overall funding disposition (i.e. exceed approved funding amount or de-commit money that has already been disbursed).


New HCF Program Funding Commitments Search Tool
A funding commitments search tool has been added to the HCF Program Search Tools web page that provides the estimated support amount for all HCF Program commitments. Funding commitments can be searched and sorted by funding year, applicant name, city, state, or ZIP code, Funding Commitment Letter (FCL) issue date, service provider name, or Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN).


New Consortium FCC Form 460 Bulk Load Enhancement
Consortium applicants can select multiple HCPs to upload to Line 2a and 2b of the consortium FCC Form 460 instead of selecting each HCP one at a time. Allowing batches of HCPs to be added at once reduces the amount of time necessary to select large numbers of HCPs.


In addition, consortium applicants can now add member HCPs to the consortium FCC Form 460 after a member HCP FCC Form 460 has been submitted but before it has been approved by USAC. This enhancement will allow for more accurate initial lists of member HCPs and will reduce the amount of revisions needed for the consortium FCC Form 460 to include all member HCPs.


New Email Notification Feature for Consortium FCC Form 460 Revisions
Consortium applicants will now receive an email notification when a revision to the consortium’s FCC Form 460 has been approved.


Existing HCPs Search Function Enhancement for New FCC Forms 460
When creating a new FCC Form 460, applicants can now search for existing HCPs using their HCP numbers in addition to searching by the ZIP code.


Consortium Search Function Enhancement
Consortium project coordinators can now search and sort member HCPs by HCP number and HCP name on the “My Consortium” tab.


FCC Form 462 Contract Enhancement
On the FCC Form 462, the contract ID for a contract added to the form will now display next to the contract on the “Competitive Bidding” and “Expense Items” tabs. 


Validation Correction on FCC Form 460, Line 49
Applicants are now able to enter “0” on Line 49 of the FCC Form 460 for the number of licensed patient beds that are at a non-profit hospital.


Search Posted Services Bug Fixed
A bug that was preventing service providers from downloading PDFs from the Search Posted Services tool has been fixed.


Learn More, Receive Assistance
Stay in touch with the RHC Program to learn about future enhancements to My Portal and other information.

For immediate assistance with the HCF Program, submit questions via email or phone at (800) 453-1546.

4/6/2015My Portal Outage Due to System Maintenance: Wednesday, April 8


The Rural Health Care Program’s My Portal may be unavailable Wednesday, April 8 from 5:00-7:00 PM EDT, for system maintenance. Online forms will not be accessible for health care providers or service providers. During this time, users may be unable to file, certify, and search for certain forms online. We apologize for any inconvenience.

4/3/2015Telecommunications Program: My Portal Software Updates


The Rural Health Care (RHC) Program deploys software updates to improve usability and functionality in My Portal, the RHC Program's online application management system.  


These updates include features that will expedite the application review process and help applicants maintain RHC Program compliance. The features are also intended to make form submission faster and easier for applicants. Many enhancements are based on applicant feedback.


Telecommunications Program Updates:


Service Provider Invoicing Search Screen Enhancement
The processing speed has increased for the funding requests search on the FRNs tab. Service providers who are invoicing for multiple FRNs can now search and add FRNs to their invoices without excessive lag time. See update

Learn More/Receive Assistance 
Stay in touch with the Telecommunications Program to learn about future enhancements to My Portal and other information.


- Join us for the Telecommunications Program Webinars
Subscribe to the RHC Circuit quarterly newsletter to receive updates about My Portal and other RHC Program news. 
Email us with suggestions and feedback about My Portal.


For immediate assistance about the Telecommunications Program, submit questions via email or phone at (800) 453-1546.

3/30/20152014 USAC Annual Report Now Available


USAC's 2014 Annual Report  highlights the many ways USAC continued on the journey towards helping connect Americans to each other and the world through broadband and Internet access. By keeping a sharp focus on the needs of program participants and through collaboration with stakeholders, USAC implemented program and policy changes in efficient and streamlined ways.

3/24/2015First Quarter 2015 RHC Circuit Issued


The 1Q2015 RHC Circuit has been issued. To subscribe, please visit our subscription center.

3/5/2015Pre-Conference Events at ATA 2015 in Los Angeles, CA - Register Today!


Join USAC at the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) Annual Meeting to learn more about the Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Program.

Register for a pre-conference event, connect with USAC at the conference for help with program participation, or attend our USAC/FCC panel discussion.

More information is available in the HCF Program Trainings & Outreach section.

3/2/2015FCC Form 462 and Supporting Documentation Requirements


The Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Program began accepting FCC Forms 462 for Funding Year 2015 (FY2015) on March 1, 2015, and will continue to accept FCC Forms 462 for FY2014 through June 30, 2015.

Please be advised of the requirements relating to the source of FCC Form 462 supporting documentation.

Supporting Documentation Requirements
Per the Healthcare Connect Fund Order 47 C.F.R. Section 54.643(a)(3), applicants must provide a contract, bill, service offer, letter, or similar document from the service provider that contains the following information:

  1. The vendor(s) selected and the HCP(s) who will receive the services;
  2. The service, bandwidth, and costs for which support is being requested;
  3. The term of the service agreement(s), if applicable.


As such, cover letters or any other documentation that is not provided by the service provider and hand-written notes by health care providers on documents provided by service providers are not compliant with program rules for supporting documentation.

Failure to supply documentation that meets requirements will result in an information request, and failure to respond to information requests in a timely manner may result in loss of funding. 

For More Information
The following resources are available to assist you with filing FCC Form 462:

2/6/2015One-Time Extension Granted for FY2013 FCC Form 463 Filing Deadline


The FCC has released an Order (DA 15-163) providing a one-time 60-day extension of the Funding Year (FY) 2013 FCC Form 463 invoice filing deadline for the Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Program. This extension will provide applicants and service providers with sufficient flexibility to complete and submit their invoicing forms to USAC with the necessary supporting documentation.  

All completed invoices must be received by USAC within six months (180 days) of the end of the funding commitment. For example, for FY2013 funding commitments ending on June 30, 2014, the FCC Form 463 deadline for submission by the applicant to USAC and approval by the service provider was December 31, 2014. This one-time 60-day extension will provide those applicants whose FCC Forms 463 were due on December 31, 2014 with an extension until March 2, 2015 to file. For those applicants whose funding commitments ended prior to June 30, 2014, the 60-day extension will begin six months after the end date of their funding commitment. 

Per the order, this limited waiver does not reduce or eliminate any HCF Program procedures or lessen the program requirements with which participants must comply to receive funding under the HCF Program. All existing HCF Program rules and requirements will continue to apply. Applicants are encouraged to start the invoicing process as soon as services have started and a bill has been received from the service provider.  

More information for HCPs:

More information for service providers:

Additional Assistance
If you are experiencing any issues submitting your FCC Form 463, contact the RHC Help Desk by email or by phone at (800) 453-1546. We also recommend that you subscribe to the RHC Circuit newsletter and join us for quarterly webinars for up-to-date information about the RHC Program and assistance with program rules.  

 

2/4/2015Telecommunications Program: My Portal Software Updates


The Rural Health Care (RHC) Program deploys software updates to improve usability and functionality in My Portal, the RHC Program's online application management system.  


These updates include features that will expedite the application review process and help applicants maintain RHC Program compliance. The features are also intended to make form submission faster and easier for applicants. Many enhancements are based on applicant feedback.


Telecommunications Program Updates


Change to FCC Form 465 Confirmation Step for New Applicants
When a new applicant submits an FCC Form 465 through My Portal for the first time, the original FCC Form 465 will need to be printed, signed, and dated by the individual who submitted the form, and submitted to USAC. The signed hard copy of the form can be submitted by mail, or electronically by scanning and sending a PDF via to the RHC Help Desk. The FCC Form 465 confirmation pop-up window has been updated to inform applicants they can submit the “wet signature” via email.


Learn More/Receive Assistance 
Stay in touch with the Telecommunications Program to learn about future enhancements to My Portal and other information.


- Join us for the Telecommunications Program Webinars
- Subscribe to the RHC Circuit quarterly newsletter to receive updates about My Portal and other RHC Program news. 
- Email us with suggestions and feedback about My Portal.


For immediate assistance about the Telecommunications Program, submit questions via email or phone at (800) 453-1546.

2/4/2015Monthly Updates on Progress Towards Annual Funding Cap


The Rural Health Care Program has an annual cap of $400 million in total support available for telecommunications and broadband funding for the Telecommunications and Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) programs. As part of the total funding cap, there is also a $150 million cap for upfront payments and multi-year commitments. Requests for funding for both the Telecommunications and HCF programs may be submitted beginning during the initial funding request filing period, March 1 – May 30 prior to the beginning of the funding year, and through the end of funding year. USAC will process all requests until funding is exhausted.

In order to keep you informed about progress towards reaching the funding caps for Funding Year (FY) 2013 and FY2014, RHC Program staff will continue to update this funding cap progress report. Estimated commitments are based on HCP funding requests, and are subject to change after USAC review of forms.

$400 million Cap for Total RHC Program Funding

FY2013

FY2014

Total Commitment Requests Received

$192,302,359

$116,695,473

Total Commitment Made

$178,292,081

$65,379,342


Commitment Requests Received (Telecom Program)

$141,299,499

$77,550,930


Commitments Made (Telecom Program)

$128,824,718

$42,343,378


Commitment Requests Received (HCF Program – Consortia)

$34,377,214

$26,072,856


Commitments Made (HCF Program – Consortia)

$32,539,586

$18,100,134


Commitment Requests Received (HCF Program – Individual HCPs)

$16,625,646

$13,071,687


Commitments Made (HCF Program – Individual HCPs)

$16,927,777

$4,935,830


$150 million Cap for Upfront Payments and Multi-year Commitments

FY2013

FY2014

Total Commitment Requests Received

$42,284,497

$31,490,651

Total Commitment Made

$40,530,757

$18,209,398


Total Commitment Requests Received (Consortia)

$32,799,129

$24,559,428


Total Commitment Made (Consortia)

$30,947,848

$16,976,977


Total Commitment Requests Received (Individual HCPs)

$9,485,368

$6,931,223


Total Commitment Made (Individual HCPs)

$9,582,908

$1,232,421


HCF Program Disbursements

FY2013

FY2014

Total Disbursements Made

$11,741,175

$739,850


Total Disbursements Made (Consortia)

$5,418,103

$662,195


Total Disbursements Made (Individual HCPs)

$6,323,073

$77,655


HCF Program Funding Requests

FY2013

FY2014

Total Funding Requests Made

2,839

1,335


Total Funding Requests Made (Consortia)

55

88


Total Funding Requests Made (Individual HCPs)

2,784

1,247


Note: All data for estimated commitments and disbursements made are through January 31, 2015.

1/22/2015FCC Clarifies Supporting Documentation Deadline with Order Release


The FCC has released an Order (DA 15-69) clarifying the deadline for supporting documentation associated with the FCC Form 466 (Telecommunications Program Funding Request and Certification Form). Per the Order, beginning in Funding Year 2015, applicants will be required to file all supporting documentation with their FCC Form 466 by the end of the funding year. FCC Forms 466 will not be deemed complete absent the receipt of all supporting documentation and associated certifications.

If a form is received without all supporting documentation, or if supporting documentation is inadequate, USAC will inform the applicant in writing and give the applicant 14 calendar days to submit the missing or relevant supporting documentation. If an applicant does not provide a timely response to USAC requests for documentation, the funding request will be denied.

Requiring the submission of supporting documentation with the FCC Form 466 by the end of the funding year is intended to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the RHC Program by minimizing the need to reprocess applications and decreasing both administrative costs and form processing time. 

1/6/2015Submit FY2015 Service Requests


Applicants can now submit the FCC Form 465 (Description of Services Requested and Certification Form) or FCC Form 461 (Request for Services Form) through My Portal for Funding Year (FY) 2015.

USAC allows for form submission up to six months before the beginning of the funding year (July 1, 2015), so that applicants may have sufficient time for the competitive bidding process. Service requests can be submitted at any time during the funding year, but must be submitted before June 2, 2015, to receive a full 12 months of funding for FY2015. This allows for the minimum 28-day competitive bidding period required by the RHC Program.

Learn More about the FCC Form 465
Instructions and best practices for FCC Form 465 can be found on the Telecom Program Forms page. For more information, review the Step 2: Evaluation Criteria and Service Request web page on the RHC Telecom Program website for applicants.

All Telecom Program applicants should also review web pages for the steps that precede the "Evaluation Criteria & Service Requests" step to ensure program compliance, including information about determining eligibility, preparing for competitive bidding, and Evergreen contracts, which may exempt an HCP from filing the FCC Form 465.

A Telecom Program Application Timeline with all form submission deadlines is available on the handouts section of the Telecom Program Trainings & Outreach page.

Learn More about the FCC Form 461
Instructions and best practices can be found on the HCF Program Forms page. For more information, review the service request web pages on the RHC website for HCF Program Individual HCPs or HCF Program consortia.

All RHC Program applicants should also review web pages for the steps that precede the “Request Services” step to ensure program compliance, including information about determining eligibility, preparing for competitive bidding, and competitive bidding exemptions for filing the FCC Form 461 for the HCF Program.

An HCF Program Application Timeline with all form submission deadlines is available on the handouts section of the HCF Program Trainings & Outreach page.
 

1/2/2015HCF Program My Portal Software Updates


The Rural Health Care (RHC) Program deploys software updates to improve usability and functionality in My Portal, the RHC Program's online application management system. 

These updates include features that will expedite the application review process and help applicants maintain Rural Health Care (RHC) Program compliance. Many of the enhancements are based on feedback from applicants.

The following updates are only applicable to the Healthcare Connect Fund Program.

New Consortium FCC Form 460 Bulk Load Enhancement
Consortia users can now “bulk load” HCPs for Lines 2a and 2b when filling out the consortium FCC Form 460.

New Email Notification Features for FCC Form 462
If an applicant selects a Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN) on the FCC Form 462 for a service provider that has not checked the HCF Program certification in Block 15 of their FCC Form 498, an email will be send to the contact email address for that service provider, alerting them to revise their SPIN to elect to participate in the HCF Program.

FRN Added to Subject and Body Text of FCC Form 463 Notification Emails
The FRN will be included in the subject line and in the top portion of the body of all FCC Form 463 notification emails to ensure accuracy.

Applicants Able to Delete FCC Form 463 Drafts
Applicants are now able to delete a draft of an FCC Form 463, even after they have submitted it to the service provider for review. An email will be sent to the account holder who deleted the draft confirming the deletion. Once the service provider certifies and submits the form to USAC, applicants can no longer delete the FCC Form 463.

New Features for Consultants to Manage Third Party Authorizations (TPAs)
Consultant applicants will now see the list of all of their FCC Forms 460 that are in status “Pending TPA” on their dashboard. Consultants can upload a single TPA document, and choose to which FCC Forms 460 it applies. Once the TPA is uploaded, start and end dates entered, and associated with one or more HCPs, those FCC Forms 460 will show as “Submitted” status.

Firefox® Number Fields Bug Fixed 
When using Firefox® browser, a bug that caused the cursor to jump to the next field when a number was entered has been fixed.


Learn More, Receive Assistance
Stay in touch with the RHC Program to learn about future enhancements to My Portal and other information.

For immediate assistance with the HCF Program, submit questions via email or phone at (800) 453-1546.