Rural Health Care

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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 at RHC-Assist@usac.org or (800) 453-1546.

   


8/11/2016Webinar on August 16: 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 August 16, 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.

8/10/2016My Portal Outage Due to System Maintenance: Thursday, August 11


Rural Health Care’s My Portal will be unavailable from 7:00-9:00 AM ET on Thursday, August 11, 2016, due to system maintenance. Online forms will not be accessible for health care providers or service providers. We apologize for any inconvenience.
 

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.

5/20/2016Time Running Out to Get a Full Year of Funding in FY2016


Only two weeks remain for healthcare providers (HCPs) to start their RHC Program competitive bidding period in time to receive a full 12 months of funding for the upcoming funding year, FY2016 (July 1, 2016 - June 30, 2017).

To meet the deadline to be eligible for a full 12 months of funding, USAC must receive, process, and post your service request form by June 2. If you haven't submitted this form for FY2016, please do so as soon as possible! Note: HCPs can submit the service request forms at any time during the funding year, but if the form posts after June 2, support will be pro-rated. 

  • To initiate the competitive bidding process* for the Healthcare Connect Fund Program, submit the service request form, FCC Form 461.
  • To initiate the competitive bidding process* for the Telecom Program, submit the service request form, FCC Form 465

*Healthcare providers with competitive bidding exemptions as individual HCPs or competitive bidding exemptions as consortia do not need to submit these forms.

Allow 5+ Days for USAC to Process and Post Your Form
Processing times vary, but, in general, it takes USAC 5+ business days to receive, process, and post a service request form by June 2 (complex applications, including consortium service requests and individual HCP service requests with RFPs, can take longer). Service request forms are processed in the order in which they are received.

Because of this, we encourage you to submit these forms as soon as possible. If you submit the form on May 30 or later, it most likely will not be processed and posted by June 2.**

**Note: Why June 2? FY2016 begins on July 1, 2016, and HCPs are required to complete a 28-day competitive bidding process to receive RHC Program funding. To complete the 28-day period by July 1 (the first day of the funding year), your form must be processed and posted by June 2.