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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.

7/8/2014E-File Outage Due to System Maintenance: Friday, July 11


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

7/8/2014Monthly 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

Commitment Requests Received

$250,609,669

$27,273,828

Commitments Made

$93,277,637

$0



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

FY2013

FY2014

Commitment Requests Received

$80,815,383

$7,947,302

Commitments Made

$14,524,098

$0


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

6/30/2014Update - My Portal Outage Due to System Maintenance: Tuesday, July 1


Update: The My Portal system will be unavailable from 5:00-7:00 PM EDT Tuesday, July 1, due to system maintenance. We apologize for any inconvenience.

6/30/2014Last Chance to Submit FY2013 Funding Requests


The deadline to submit a funding request for Funding Year (FY) 2013 of the Rural Health Care Program is Monday, June 30, 2014, by 11:59 PM EDT. You must submit a funding request form by this time to receive funding for FY2013 (July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014).

The following funding request forms are available for the RHC Program:
After the deadline, all draft forms of FY2013 funding requests will be deleted from My Portal.

How to Submit
All FCC forms and supporting documentation must be submitted in My Portal, the Rural Health Care Program's online application management system.

Funding request forms and instructions are available online on the Telecom Program Forms page and the HCF Program Forms page.

Contact Us
If you have any questions or encounter problems in My Portal, contact us:
  • Email the RHC Help Desk, or
  • Call the RHC Help Desk at (800) 453-1546 between 9:30 AM and 4:30 PM ET.

A new Contact Us link is now available in the left-hand navigation menu of every page of the RHC Program website providing specific contact information for the Telecom, HCF, and Pilot programs.

To learn more about the RHC Program, visit our website.

6/26/2014Changes to the RHC Program Contact Information


In order to better serve you, the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program has centralized our channels of communication into a single, enhanced RHC Help Desk for the Healthcare Connect Fund, Telecommunications, and Pilot programs.

This streamlined system of communication eliminates several email addresses and phone numbers for different RHC programs, and helps ensure that your questions are answered directly by the staff member who has both the knowledge and immediate availability to assist you.

How to Contact the RHC Program
All RHC Program participants should use this information to contact the RHC Help Desk:
  • Email us at rhc-assist@usac.org, or
  • Call us at (800) 453-1546 between 9:30 AM and 4:30 PM ET.

The following email addresses and phone numbers for the RHC Help Desk will be discontinued in the near future: rhc-admin@usac.org, rhc-outreach@usac.org, and (800) 229-5476.

For more information on how to navigate the new Help Desk phone system, please visit the Rural Health Care Program Contact Us page.

6/20/2014Technical Difficulties in My Portal


Applicants may be experiencing technical difficulties when attempting to submit Healthcare Connect Fund Program application forms through My Portal.

Under the "Certifications" tab, after selecting "Certify," applicants may receive an "Incorrect Signature" error message, which will prevent form submission. To certify and submit a form, you will need to clear the auto-populated text in the "Signature" field and enter the password you use to sign into My Portal.

We are working to correct the certification function and hope it will be updated soon.

6/20/2014June Software Update for My Portal


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 of the enhancements are based on feedback from applicants.

Continue reading below to learn about the recent My Portal updates.

Updates for Individual HCP and Consortium Account Holders
The following updates were made to accounts with individual health care provider (HCP) or consortium leader permissions:

New FCC Form 463 Tab Added
In the "forms" tabs, account holders will see the new "463" tab and will be able to submit the form for approved funding requests. The "total invoice amount" column will be blank if there is $0.00 available for invoicing.

More Drop-Down Options Added
More drop-down options for FCC Form 462 supporting documentation were added. Account holders can now select "Cost Allocation," "Cost-effectiveness Evaluation," and "Eligible Usage Calculation" supporting documentation options from the drop-down menu. In addition to these options, consortium leader account holders can select "Network Plan" and "Sustainability Plan."

Versions of the Network Cost Worksheet Now Viewable
Account holders with multiple expenses can now view submitted or approved versions of the Network Cost Worksheet (NCW) in the "462" tab. After the NCW is approved, only the approved version will be available to view in the "Download" column for each form.

PDF Versions of Submitted or Approved Forms Now Viewable
Account holders can now view PDF versions of all submitted or approved FCC forms. Once USAC approves the form, the submitted version will be replaced and the approved version will be available to view in the "Download" column for each form. Withdrawn, duplicate, or denied forms will not be available to view.

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

For immediate assistance about the HCF Program, submit questions via email.

6/9/2014My Portal Outage Due to System Maintenance: Wednesday, June 11


The My Portal system will be unavailable from 5:00-7:00 PM EDT Wednesday, June 11, due to system maintenance. We apologize for any inconvenience.

4/30/2014Certain Online Forms Unavailable Due to System Maintenance: Friday, May 2 through Saturday, May 3


Certain online forms will be unavailable beginning Friday, May 2 at 8:00 PM through Saturday, May 3 at 5:00 PM EDT, for system maintenance. Including forms in the:
  • High Cost Program system,
  • Lifeline Program system,
  • Rural Health Care Program My Portal system, and
  • Schools and Libraries Program Apply Online system.
These online forms will not be accessible for eligible telecommunications carriers, 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, search for certain forms online, and use online applications or tools.

The FCC Forms 499-A/Q, FCC Form 498, and the NLAD system will still be available. We apologize for any inconvenience.

4/16/2014My Portal Outage Due to System Maintenance: Thursday, April 17


The My Portal system will be unavailable from 5:00-7:00 PM EDT Thursday, April 17, due to system maintenance. We apologize for any inconvenience.

4/7/2014My Portal Outage Due to System Maintenance: Monday, April 7


The My Portal system will be unavailable from 6:00-9:00 PM EDT Monday, April 7, due to system maintenance. We apologize for any inconvenience.

4/3/2014Certain Online Forms Unavailable Due to System Maintenance: Saturday, April 5


Certain online forms will be unavailable Saturday, April 5, from 8:00 AM until 5:00 PM EDT, for system maintenance. Including forms in the:

  • High Cost Program system,
  • Lifeline Program system,
  • Rural Health Care Program My Portal system, and
  • Schools and Libraries Program Apply Online system. 

These online forms will not be accessible for eligible telecommunications carriers, 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, search for certain forms online, and use online applications or tools.

The FCC Forms 499-A/Q and FCC Form 498 will still be available.

We apologize for any inconvenience.

4/3/2014E-File Outage Due to System Maintenance: Friday, April 4


The E-File system, including the Rural Health Care Program’s My Portal, will be unavailable Friday, April 4, from 9:00-11:00 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.

4/3/2014My Portal Outage Due to System Maintenance: Thursday, April 3


The My Portal system will be unavailable from 5:00-7:00 PM EDT Thursday, April 3, due to system maintenance. We apologize for any inconvenience.

4/1/20142013 USAC Annual Report Now Available


USAC's 2013 Annual Report highlights USAC's efforts to provide support and guidance for program participants as they navigate ongoing changes in the landscape of universal service. With responsiveness and flexibility, USAC worked in 2013 to show beneficiaries a clear path towards affordable access to telecommunications and Internet services.

3/20/2014E-File Outage Due to System Maintenance: Thursday, March 20


The E-File system, including Rural Health Care’s My Portal, will be unavailable Thursday, March 20, from 10:00-11:59PM 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.

3/18/2014My Portal Outage Due to System Maintenance: March 18


The My Portal system will be unavailable from 5:00-6:00 PM EDT Tuesday, March 18, 2014, due to system maintenance. We apologize for any inconvenience.

2/25/2014Skilled Nursing Facility Pilot Program Deferred


The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced the deferral of the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) Pilot Program, originally expected to be implemented in Funding Year 2014. The SNF Pilot Program, introduced in the Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Order (FCC 12-150), was intended to support broadband connections for skilled nursing facilities using telehealth applications that improve the quality and efficiency of health care delivery.

The FCC is reviewing comments solicited in the Technology Transitions Order Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) and is considering using part of the $50 million set aside for the SNF Pilot Program for consumer-oriented rural broadband experiments that would improve patient access to health care.

Updates about the SNF Pilot Program will be announced in the Rural Health Care Program’s Latest News and the RHC Circuit newsletter.

2/18/2014RHC Circuit 1Q 2014 Issued


The RHC Circuit for 1Q 2014 is now available. Sign up to receive the newsletter via email in the Subscription Center.

1/29/2014Webinar Slides Now Available: FCC Form 460 for Consortia


The presentation slides for today's webinar, FCC Form 460 for Consortia, are now available.

1/20/2014Join Us For a Webinar About FCC Form 460 for HCF Program Consortia


You are invited to join the RHC Program staff for a webinar about FCC Form 460 (Eligibility and Registration Form), the first form in the application process for consortia in the Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Program. After the form walk-through and discussion of agenda items, the RHC Program staff will answer questions from the audience.