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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.

12/23/2014Fourth Quarter 2014 RHC Circuit Issued


The 4Q 2014 RHC Circuit has been issued. To subscribe, please visit our subscription center.

12/9/2014Invitation to Webinar: FCC Form 463 Invoicing for Service Providers


FCC Form 463 is due for Funding Year (FY) 2013 single-year funding commitments with an end date of June 30, 2014, by December 31, 2014. Join us for a webinar to review FCC Form 463 requirements for service providers and tips for completing invoices on time.

Register here: FCC Form 463 Invoicing Webinar for Service Providers
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
2:00 to 3:00 PM EST

We encourage participants to submit questions in advance using the webinar registration form. If you think of a question after you register, please send it to RHC Program Outreach.

Webinar Topics
USAC will present best practices and answer your questions about the FCC Form 463. Service providers participating will learn about:

  • FCC Form 463 invoicing process
  • The roles of the HCP and service provider in the FCC Form 463 submission
  • FCC Form 463 best practices
  • Reviewing and certifying an FCC Form 463
  • Updating an FCC Form 498
  • Disbursement cycle
  • Where to find help

After the discussion of agenda items, staff will answer questions from the audience. We welcome suggestions for additional topics to RHC Program Outreach.

Need Help?
More information about HCF Program events is available on the Trainings & Outreach page of the RHC Program website.

If you have difficulty connecting to the webinar on December 17, contact USAC Outreach. For questions about the HCF Program, contact the HCF Program Help Desk via email or by phone at (800) 453-1546.

12/3/2014Resolved: Rural Health Care Help Desk Phone Line Down


The Rural Health Care Help Desk line (800) 453-1546 is currently down.  Calls placed to this number are being directed to a message from USAC’s Customer Operations. We apologize for the inconvenience and ask that until the issue is resolved, please send all inquiries via email to RHC Assist. This message will be updated when the phone issue has been resolved.

12/3/2014Monthly 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

$192,951,927

$100,844,308

Total Commitment Made

$168,167,049

$19,667,036


Commitment Requests Received (Telecom Program)

$147,545,751

$50,218,653


Commitments Made (Telecom Program)

$118,978,139

$4,624,668


Commitment Requests Received (HCF Program – Consortia)

$34,779,193

$27,287,348


Commitments Made (HCF Program – Consortia)

$32,941,565

$13,667,640


Commitment Requests Received (HCF Program – Individual HCPs)

$17,056,076

$10,600,624


Commitments Made (HCF Program – Individual HCPs)

$16,247,345

$1,374,828


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

FY2013

FY2014

Total Commitment Requests Received

$42,748,798

$31,418,468

Total Commitment Made

$40,222,050

$13,184,828


Total Commitment Requests Received (Consortia)

$33,204,975

$26,288,117


Total Commitment Made (Consortia)

$31,353,695

$13,087,457


Total Commitment Requests Received (Individual HCPs)

$9,543,823

$5,130,351


Total Commitment Made (Individual HCPs)

$8,868,356

$97,371


HCF Program Disbursements

FY2013

FY2014

Total Disbursements Made

$6,543,066

$273,711


Total Disbursements Made (Consortia)

$4,031,525

$256,464


Total Disbursements Made (Individual HCPs)

$2,511,542

$17,247


HCF Program Funding Requests

FY2013

FY2014

Total Funding Requests Made

2,839

867


Total Funding Requests Made (Consortia)

55

54


Total Funding Requests Made (Individual HCPs)

2,784

813


Note: All data for estimated commitments and disbursements made are through November 30, 2014.

12/2/2014Reminder: HCF Program Deadline for FCC Form 463 for FY2013


Per the FCC Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Order, Paragraph 305,* all FCC Forms 463 must be submitted to USAC within six months of the end date of the funding commitment. For funding year (FY) 2013 single year funding commitments ending June 30, 2014, the FCC Form 463 must be approved by both the applicant and service provider and submitted to USAC by December 31, 2014.

To ensure service provider payment by submitting an FCC Form 463 to USAC:

  • An applicant must have an approved FCC Form 462 funding commitment from USAC.
  • An applicant must submit its FCC Form 463 associated with the funding commitment.
  • The service provider will be notified and will approve or reject the form. If the service provider rejects the form, it is sent back to the health care provider (HCP) for corrections.
  • After the form has been approved by the service provider, USAC will review it.
  • Payments are made upon USAC review and approval.

Note: This deadline is for the HCF Program only and does not apply to the Telecommunications Program.

More Information for HCPs

More Information for Service Providers
  • FCC Form 463 Service Provider Guide

Additional Assistance
  • If you are experiencing any issues in submitting your FCC Form 463, please do not hesitate to contact the RHC Help Desk by email or by phone at (800) 453-1546.
  • We also recommend subscribing to the RHC Circuit quarterly newsletter and joining us for quarterly webinars for the most up-to-date information about the RHC Program and assistance with program rules.

*FCC Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Order (FCC 12-150), Paragraph 305: "This invoicing procedure is different from the Primary Program in two principal ways. In the Healthcare Connect Fund, as in the Pilot Program, (1) a HCP or Consortium Leader must certify to USAC that it has paid its contribution to the service provider before the invoice can be sent to USAC and the service provider can be paid, and (2) before any invoice is sent to USAC, both the HCP and service provider must certify that they have reviewed the document and that it is accurate. We believe the adoption of these requirements in the new program will help eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse by making sure that HCPs have made their required contribution to the cost of the services they receive and that the invoice accurately reflects the services an HCP is receiving and the support due to the service provider. It is permissible to certify that these steps have been taken via electronic signature of an officer, director, or other authorized employee of the Consortium Leader or HCP. All invoices must be received by the Administrator within six months of the end date of the funding commitment."

11/14/2014Telecommunications Program My Portal Software Update


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 Telecommunications Program.

New FCC Form 465 Enhancement for Community Mental Health Centers

On Block 4 of FCC Form 465 (Eligibility), if an applicant checks the "Community mental health center" category, two new upload buttons will appear to allow the applicant to attach the Community Mental Health Center checklist and HCP operating license/certification. My Portal will not allow the applicant to submit the form unless both of these supporting documents have been uploaded.

New Pop-up Text Added to FCC Form 466 Recall Button

If an error is discovered after an applicant submits an FCC Form 466, My Portal allows the applicant to recall the form and make required changes using a recall button that has been added to the My Forms page. Now, when an applicant clicks this button, a pop-up text box will appear informing the applicant that this action is not reversible and that recalling the form will remove it from the USAC review queue. The applicant should click "OK" to recall the form, or "Cancel" to keep the form in the review queue and return to the My Forms page.

7/16/2014Submit Comments on HCF Program Annual Reporting Requirement


The FCC seeks comment on the annual report data collection proposals to measure the progress of consortia participating in the Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Program and on how to best obtain information for measuring performance goals:

Performance Goal

Proposed Data Collection

Increase access to broadband for health care providers

  • Extent to which program participants subscribe to higher levels of broadband over time;
  • Participation in the HCF Program, relative to the universe of eligible participants; and
  • Bandwidths obtained by different types of health care providers (HCPs) and whether those bandwidths are sufficient for their needs.

Specific data points include:

  • Anticipated increases in bandwidth or service level upgrades for HCPs on their networks and whether service agreements allow for such increases;
  • The average bandwidth obtained per HCP site and price paid per megabyte, categorized by HCP type;
  • Potential growth of the network categorized by number and type of HCPs;
  • The number of outages and duration of time when service in unavailable, to the extent that data is already being collected; and
  • The types of technologies consortia use to receive service (e.g., fiber, coaxial cable, copper, wireless, or satellite.

Foster the development and deployment of broadband health care networks

  • The extent to which eligible HCPs participating the HCF Program are connected to other HCPs through broadband health care networks;
  • The reach of broadband health care networks supported by the RHC Program, including connections to those networks by eligible and non-eligible HCP sites; and
  • How program participants use their broadband connections to deliver health care, including whether and to what extend HCPs are engaging in telemedicine, exchanging electronic health records (EHRs), or participating in health information exchanges, remote training, and other telehealth applications.

Maximize the cost-effectiveness of the HCF Program

  • The cost of administering the program as compared to funds disbursed to program participants;
  • The prices and speeds of the broadband connections supported by the HCF Program; and
  • The number and nature of all responsive bids received through the competitive bidding process, as well as an explanation of how each winning bid was chosen.

In addition to the proposed collections listed above, the FCC welcomes comments on other data points that would be most useful in measuring performance goals for the HCF Program, especially quantitative data that can be collected through My Portal. The FCC is also interested in hearing about how easily HCPs or consortium leaders can provide the proposed data, and how to minimize any burden imposed on filers.

To read the complete public notice and submit comments, view Public Notice DA 14-853 for comments regarding the HCF Program consortium annual report. Follow the instructions on page 3, or view the Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) Guide to submit your comments.

7/16/2014My Portal Monthly Software Update


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 Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Program compliance. Many enhancements are based on feedback from applicants.

Telecommunications Program Updates

Document Tree Bug Resolved
All folders in the document tree are now expandable.

Contract Expiration Date
Funding Commitment Letters (FCL) associated with a contract will now show the contract expiration date.

View Information Requests in New Tab
A new tab called, “All Information Requests” shows all information requests for the HCPs for which a user has access. Use the “Status” dropdown to sort information requests by status. There are three status options: “Replied,” “Expired,” and “Pending.” Pending information requests are listed first, in ascending order of the response deadline.

Select Buttons to Populate HCP Circuit Start and End Location Addresses
The Circuit Start Location and Circuit Termination Location are located on FCC Form 466, Lines 26 and 27.

The HCP location as shown on Block 1 of the FCC Form 465 (Description of Services Requested and Certification Form) will populate with either the circuit start (FCC Form 466, Line 26) or the circuit termination location (FCC Form 466, Line 27) by selecting the appropriate radio button. The corresponding address is also required, and must be typed into the form.

Find Urban Rate Information
Urban rate information for Funding Year 2014, which is required for Line 41 of the FCC Form 466 (Monthly Urban Rate), is now available on the Urban Rates Search page of the USAC website.

Service Providers Updates
All invoicing screens will now consistently display the correct amount available for invoicing.