Rural Health Care

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1/29/2016USAC Phone/Fax System Outage Due to System Upgrade - January 29 to February 1


USAC will be upgrading our phone system beginning at 6:00 PM ET Friday, January 29.  This will impact USAC's Customer Service  via (888) 641-8722, the RHC Help Desk via (800) 453-1546, the USAC main number, individual employee direct lines, and our fax lines.  Calls and faxes to these numbers will not go through and callers will be unable to reach voicemail.  Our phone system will be available again Monday, February 1 at 7:00 AM.  

The Schools and Libraries Client Service Bureau (CSB) will remain open during their normal operating hours.

1/25/2016USAC Will Remain Closed on Monday, January 25 Due to Inclement Weather


Due to inclement weather, USAC will remain closed on Monday, January 25 

This closure includes USAC's Customer Operations and the Rural Health Care Program's RHC Help Desk. The Schools and Libraries Client Service Bureau (CSB) will remain open during their normal operating hours.

1/22/2016USAC Will Close at 12:00 PM ET January 22 Due to Inclement Weather


Due to inclement weather, USAC will close at 12:00 PM ET on Friday, January 22. 

This closure includes USAC's Customer Operations and the Rural Health Care Program's RHC Help Desk. The Schools and Libraries Client Service Bureau (CSB) will remain open during their normal operating hours.

USAC will re-open on Monday, January 25, 2016, with normal business hours and will respond to all inquiries at that time. Thank you!

1/19/2016My Portal Outage Due to System Maintenance: Friday, January 22


The Rural Health Care Program’s My Portal will be unavailable Friday, January 22 from 7:00-7:30 AM ET, due to 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.

1/14/2016Submit Request for Services Forms for FY2016 RHC Program Funding


Healthcare providers can now begin their Rural Health Care (RHC) Program applications in My Portal for Funding Year (FY) 2016, which begins on July 1, 2016.

USAC began accepting FCC Forms 465 and 461 on January 1, 2016, (six months before the start of the funding year) so that applicants have sufficient time for the competitive bidding process.

These forms can be submitted at any time during the funding year for which funding is requested. However, to receive the full 12 months of funding in FY2016, the forms must be posted before June 2, 2016 (to allow 28 days for competitive bidding before the start of the funding year). We highly encourage healthcare providers to submit application forms as early as possible!

Applying for the First Time?
Start by reading about the difference between the Telecom and HCF programs in the RHC Program Brochure under "program comparison." 

For Telecom Program funding, learn about rules and compliance, and familiarize yourself with the program in the Telecom Program Process Overview. We especially recommend reviewing the pages about eligibility, competitive bidding, and evergreen contracts.

For HCF Program funding, learn about rules and compliance, and familiarize yourself with the program in the HCF Program Process Overview. We especially recommend reviewing the pages about eligibility, competitive bidding, and competitive bidding exemptions.

One-on-one appointments are available for first-time applicants! Contact us to request an appointment and get started with the program.

Reminder! Updates to the Rural Areas List
Some healthcare providers that were previously eligible to participate may no longer be eligible for RHC Program funding in FY2016.

The FCC updated the Rural Areas List (Order DA 14-1042, July 2014) to reflect the latest decennial census and most recent nationwide Core Based Statistical Area (CBSA) designations. The order did not change the RHC Program's definition of a "rural area;" however, some program participants that were previously considered rural are now non-rural as a result of the update.

To find out if an HCP's rurality changed, visit the Rurality Change web page. HCPs that are newly non-rural will find information about the change in My Portal.

For the Telecom Program:

  • A warning message will appear in the "My Forms" and "My Contracts" tabs informing the applicant that the HCP is non-rural.
  • Applicants will be prevented from submitting new FCC Forms 466 for FY2016.

For the HCF Program:

  • A pop-up warning message will appear when the applicant selects the "Form 460 Revision" button informing the HCP that it is non-rural and the form may be denied.
  • HCPs that are considered non-rural will be prevented from submitting new FCC Forms 461 and FCC Forms 462 for FY2016, based on the eligibility end date.

1/14/2016Webinar Invitation: Get Started with the RHC Program


The Rural Health Care (RHC) Program began accepting applications for Funding Year 2016 on January 1, 2016.

If you're new to the RHC Program, thinking about applying for the first time, or need a refresher about the application process and program rules, join us for a webinar to learn the basics about how to participate! 

RHC 101: Intro to the RHC Program
January 28, 2016
2:00 PM ET
Register Now!

If you work with health care providers, you have a unique perspective on their needs and may be working with sites that are eligible, but not currently receiving funding from the Rural Health Care Program. Join us to learn about the program, so you can tell the health care providers you work with how they can reduce their costs of connectivity with RHC Program funding!

This presentation is very similar to the one we presented on November 18. Can't make it to the live presentation? Watch the recording.

1/14/2016My Portal Outage Due to System Maintenance: Monday, January 18


The Rural Health Care Program’s My Portal will be unavailable Monday, January 18, from 7:00-7:30 AM ET, due to 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.

12/31/2015USAC Closed from December 31 at 2:00 PM ET through January 1


In observance of the upcoming holiday, USAC will close at 2:00 PM ET on Thursday, December 31, and remain closed on Friday, January 1, 2016. 

This closure includes the Schools and Libraries Program’s Client Service Bureau (CSB), and the Rural Health Care Program's RHC Help Desk.

USAC will re-open on Monday, January 4, 2016, with normal business hours and will respond to all inquiries at that time. Thank you and happy holidays!

12/29/2015Direct Inward Dialing and Caller ID are No Longer Eligible Services in the HCF Program


Effective immediately, the Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Program will no longer provide funding for Direct Inward Dialing (DID) and Caller ID (CID) charges for individual health care providers (HCPs).

Because DID and CID are traditional telephone service features that do not enhance access to advanced telecommunications services and information services, DID and CID are not eligible for funding in the HCF Program.

DID and CID Funding in the Telecom Program
DID and CID are eligible for funding in the Telecommunications Program, when submitted with a funding request for the entire telephone service (i.e. DID and CID are not eligible for funding without telephone service). 

This gives all applicants one of two options:

  1. Applicants may request funding for an ISDN PRI circuit in the HCF Program, and request funding for DID or CID charges associated to telephone service for which funding is requested in the Telecommunications Program.
  2. Applicants may request funding for both ISDN PRI and DID or CID charges in the Telecommunications Program.

12/21/2015USAC Closed from December 24 at 2:00 PM ET through December 25


In observance of the upcoming holiday, USAC will close at 2:00 PM ET on Thursday, December 24, and remain closed on Friday, December 25, 2015. 

This closure includes the Schools and Libraries Program’s Client Service Bureau (CSB), and the Rural Health Care Program's RHC Help Desk.

USAC will re-open on Monday, December 28, with normal business hours and will respond to all inquiries at that time. Thank you and happy holidays!

12/15/2015Monthly 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. 


To view the most current funding information as of November 30, 2015, 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, and FY2015, 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. 

12/1/2015USAC and the FCC Seek Your Feedback on the RHC Program


As part of our ongoing goal to understand stakeholder needs, we are seeking feedback from you, RHC Program participants and potential participants, about your experiences applying for funding under the Telecommunications and Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) programs.

What parts of the application process are challenging? How can the application process be improved? We welcome your feedback through any of these four channels:

  1. Customer Satisfaction Survey
    Help us understand your experience with the RHC Program and the online application process with this quick survey.
     
  2. Web-Based User Testing
    During "user testing," a researcher observes your screen and listens to your comments while you interact with My Portal. If you're interested in participating, volunteer for user testing.
     
  3. Phone or Web-Based Feedback Meetings
    30-minute appointments are available, via phone or web-based, for you to share your feedback with USAC and FCC staff. Appointments are available between December 2 and December 7. 
     
  4. Written Feedback
    We welcome your feedback by email to RHC Assist. Please submit feedback by December 7.

     

11/24/2015Fourth Quarter 2015 RHC Circuit Issued


The 4Q2015 RHC Circuit has been issued. To subscribe, please visit our subscription center.

11/13/2015HCF Program Deadline for FY2014 FCC Form 463 is December 31


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) 2014 single-year funding commitments ending June 30, 2015 (the last day of FY2014), the FCC Form 463 must be approved by both the applicant and service provider, and submitted to USAC, by Thursday, December 31, 2015.

The funding commitment's end date can be found on the Funding Commitment Letter.

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

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

  • An applicant must have an approved FCC Form 462 and a 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.

New Functionality
The FCC Form 463 has been enhanced in My Portal to reduce the possibility of errors by HCPs, decreasing service provider review time and streamlining the submission process.

View the My Portal HCF Applicants Updates web page for a summary of enhancements and a PDF guide to what has changed in My Portal for the FCC Form 463. 

Invoicing Resources for Healthcare Providers
The RHC Program team has created new resources to explain the process step-by-step and ensure all HCF Program invoices can be submitted correctly and by the deadline. These new resources are linked below.

11/12/2015Telecommunications Program Webinar: November 17


Join USAC on Tuesday, November 17, 2015 at 2:00 PM EST to learn about the Rural Health Care (RHC) Telecommunications Program and seek clarification on program rules. To view more upcoming events, visit the Trainings & Outreach section of our website. Register Now!

Webinar Topics

  • Funding Update
  • Eligibility and Competitive Bidding Best Practices 
    • Service Provider Involvement in Competitive Bidding
    • Filing and Revising an FCC Form 465
    • Avoiding Duplicate HCP Numbers
  • Funding Request Best Practices 
    • Tips for Filling Out an FCC Form 466
    • Calculating and Documenting Rural Rate Changes
  • Invoicing Best Practices
  • My Portal Updates
  • Program Update 
    • Rurality Change
    • Upcoming Special Webinars

After the discussion of the agenda items, RHC Program staff will accept questions from the audience. Participants are encouraged to submit questions in advance to RHC Assist

11/3/2015USAC and Vendor Neutrality


USAC reminds health care providers (HCPs) participating in the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program that USAC does not evaluate, approve, or endorse service providers or consultants who offer services to applicants in the RHC Program; USAC does not have special relationships with any particular service provider or consultant.

If you have any questions about USAC’s policies with regard to service providers or consultants offering services to applicants in the RHC Program, please contact the RHC Help Desk at 1-800-453-1546 or at RHC-Assist@usac.org


11/3/2015My 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.

To view the newest software updates, expected to be deployed November 5, 2015, see the HCF Program Updates for Applicants and Service Provider Updates.


10/27/2015Webinar Invitation: Get Started with the RHC Program


Through the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program, $400M per year is available to health care providers for reduced rates on telecom services and broadband access.

If you're new to the RHC Program, thinking about applying for the first time, or need a refresher about the application process and program rules, join us for a webinar to learn the basics about how to participate! 

If you work with health care providers, you have a unique perspective on their needs and may be working with sites that are eligible, but not currently receiving funding from the Rural Health Care Program. Join us to learn about the program, so you can tell the health care providers you work with how they can reduce their costs of connectivity with RHC Program funding!