Rural Health Care

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9/22/2016Skilled Nursing Facilities Eligible Starting January 1

New legislation signed by the President on June 22, 2016, amends the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to include skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) among the list of eligible health care providers (HCPs) in both the Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) and Telecommunications Programs. 

SNFs can begin applying to the program on January 1, 2017, by submitting their FCC Form 460 (HCF Program) or Form 465 (Telecom Program) to determine eligibility.

Getting Started in the RHC Program
To confirm that your facility is eligible, start the RHC Program application process by filing an FCC Form 460 (for the Healthcare Connect Fund) or FCC Form 465 (for the Telecommunications Program). You can also call the RHC Help Desk at (800) 453-1546 for help getting started with the program. 

To receive RHC Program funding, in addition to being an eligible facility type such as a skilled nursing facility, the facility must be: 

  • Not-for-profit or public, and
  • In an FCC-approved rural location, if it is applying as an individual HCP. You can look up your rurality status with the Eligible Rural Areas Search.

9/20/2016Webinar on October 11: RHC 101, Intro to the Rural Health Care Program

Through the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program, $400M per year is available to health care providers for reduced rates on telecommunications services and broadband access! By participating, health care providers can save an average of 65% on eligible services.

Join us for a beginner-level webinar on October 11, RHC 101: Intro to the Rural Health Care Program, where you’ll learn about the funding available through the Healthcare Connect Fund and Telecom Programs, the differences between the programs, how to apply, and tips for successful participation.

9/1/2016Invitation to Webinar: New Funding Request Filing Window Periods

Join us for a webinar on September 8 to learn more about the RHC Program's filing window periods, and what the November 30 deadline means for you. 

Register Now: New Funding Request Filing Window Periods + Other Program Updates Webinar
Thursday, September 8, 2016, 2:00 PM ET

During the webinar, we'll also share updates about newly-eligible Skilled Nursing Facilities, funding information, and changes to the FY2017 application forms.

8/26/2016Additional Filing Window Periods Announced

Due to rapid and unprecedented growth in the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program, USAC and the FCC believe demand for funding may exceed the $400M cap of available funding in Funding Year (FY) 2016.  Demand for support has been growing steadily, and requests in FY2015 were at an historic high of $377.64M. As such, the FCC has announced a schedule for two additional filing window periods for FY2016 and an initial filing window period for FY2017. 

While these filing window periods will not affect the $400 million cap, they do provide a greater opportunity for HCPs filing within a filing window period to get some support, rather than none at all, even at the point where demand exceeds the cap. Absent such filing window periods, all RHC funding requests would be subject to the “first-come, first-served” approach that is currently in place and, should the $400 million cap be met, subsequently filed HCP requests would be cut off from RHC Program funding.  Such a flash cut may be particularly difficult for those RHC participants who have relied on RHC Program funds for many years. With the filing window period approach in place, all qualifying funding requests received within a filing window period are guaranteed some funding even if the $400 million cap is exceeded during the filing window period. In this way, the use of filing window periods facilitates the distribution of future funding in an equitable manner.  

Next Filing Window Period for FY2016
The next Filing Window Period for FY2016 will take place September 1, 2016 – November 30, 2016. Submit your funding requests during this filing window period to ensure full or partial funding. There are two funding scenarios possible for this second window:

  • If the total funding requests (including those filed prior to this filing window period) do not exceed the $400 million annual funding cap, all qualifying funding requests filed during the window period will receive 100% funding. If this is the case, there will be a third filing window, from February 1 – April 30, 2017.   We will not accept funding requests (i.e., FCC Forms 462 and 466) between filing windows (December 1, 2016 – January 31, 2017).
  • If the total funding requests exceed the annual cap by the close of the filing window, all applicants will receive a pro-rated percentage of the funding they requested, based on the total amount of funding requested during the filing window. If this is the case, no additional funding requests will be accepted for FY2016 after the end of this filing window.

Status of Requests Received Before the Next FY2016 Filing Window Period Begins
Funding requests (i.e. FCC Forms 466 and Forms 462) submitted before September 1, the opening date of the next filing window period, will be considered received on a “first-come, first-served” basis.

More Information
Read the FCC’s Public Notice and visit the Filing Window Periods for FY2016 web page for more information. The RHC Program is also holding a webinar to explain factors and scenarios in the new filing window period system. Register for the webinar today. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the RHC Help Desk via email or (800) 453-1546.

6/24/2016FCC Annual Reporting Requirements for All Consortia due September 30

The FCC released a Public Notice specifying Funding Year (FY) 2015 annual reporting requirements for Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) and Pilot Program consortia. 

For FY2015, RHC Program consortia are required to submit additional information for annual reports using an Excel template available for download on the USAC website to supplement information collected on RHC Program application forms. HCF and Pilot Program consortia must submit to USAC the types of telehealth applications supported by the RHC Program. Pilot Program consortia must also report to USAC the number of competitive bids received and an explanation of how each winning bid was selected. Learn more about annual report requirements and download the Excel template you need to fill out and submit:

Why Annual Reports?
Consortia must submit annual reports to help USAC and the FCC understand the progress made each year in meeting the program’s performance goals to:
Increase broadband access for healthcare providers, particularly those serving rural areas,
Foster development and deployment of broadband healthcare networks, and 
Maximize program cost-effectiveness.

Need Help? Contact Us!
For immediate assistance, contact the RHC Program Help Desk via email or call us at (800) 453-1546.

6/8/2016Monthly 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. 

To view the most current funding information as of May 31, 2016, check out the funding information pages for the Telecommunications Program and HCF Program.

In order to keep you informed about progress towards reaching the funding caps for Funding Year (FY) 2013, FY2014, FY2015, and FY2016, RHC Program staff will continue to update these funding cap progress web pages. Estimated commitments are based on HCP funding requests, and are subject to change after USAC review of forms.

6/7/2016FY2015 Funding Request Forms Due June 30

To claim RHC Program funding for Funding Year 2015 (July 1, 2015 - June 30, 2016), healthcare providers (HCPs) must complete their funding request forms by Thursday, June 30, 2016.

Submit the Form by June 30
To meet the deadline, you must submit a complete form by June 30. USAC highly recommends submitting the form as early as possible.