Rural Health Care

News Archive

USAC's News Archive gives you access to all announcements related to the Rural Health Care Program as they were made throughout the years. The archives will be updated as new announcements are made.


  

11/4/2016UPDATE: Known Issues with Website Display and Certain Applications


We have resolved the majority of the issues with the website and applications. We are continuing to work on residual issues. If you encounter critical problems, please contact Website Feedback. Thank you for your patience.

10/27/2016RESOLVED - USAC Phone System Outage


RESOLVED - USAC is currently experiencing a phone system outage affecting our Customer Operations call center, the Rural Health Care Help Desk, and employee phones. We are working to resolve this issue as soon as possible.

This outage does not affect the E-rate Program's Client Service Bureau (CSB). We apologize for any inconvenience.

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.

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.
 

7/7/2016USAC Customer Operations and RHC Help Desk Closed: Monday, July 11


USAC’s Customer Operations and RHC Help Desk will be closed on Monday, July 11 due to an office move.  These customer service centers will re-open on Tuesday, July 12 at their normally scheduled times.  This closure does not affect the Schools and Libraries (E-Rate) Client Service Bureau (CSB) or NLAD Technical Support.

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.

5/20/2016My Portal Outage Due to System Maintenance: Tuesday, May 24


Rural Health Care’s My Portal will be unavailable from 7:00-8:30 AM ET on Tuesday, May 24, 2016, due to system maintenance. Online forms will not be accessible for health care providers or service providers. We apologize for any inconvenience.

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.

5/17/2016My Portal Outage Due to System Maintenance: Thursday, May 19


The Rural Health Care Program’s My Portal will be unavailable Thursday, May 19 from 7:00-8:30 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.

5/10/2016My Portal Outage Due to System Maintenance: Thursday, May 12


The Rural Health Care Program’s My Portal will be unavailable Thursday, May 12 from 7:00-8:00 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.

4/27/2016Second Quarter 2016 RHC Circuit Issued


The 2Q2016 RHC Circuit has been issued. To subscribe, please visit our subscription center.

4/20/2016My Portal Outage Due to System Maintenance: Friday, April 22


The Rural Health Care Program’s My Portal will be unavailable Friday, April 22 from 7:00-8:00 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.

4/12/2016Critical Deadlines Approaching for Both FY2015 and FY2016


Spring is a critical time for health care providers participating in the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program, because important deadlines are coming up for both Funding Year (FY) 2015 and Funding Year (FY) FY2016.

FY2015 Funding Requests Due June 30, 2016
Health care providers are required to submit their funding requests for FY2015 (July 2015 - June 2016) by Thursday, June 30, 2016. 

  • If you participate in the Healthcare Connect Fund Program, use FCC Form 462.
  • If you participate in the Telecom Program, use FCC Form 466

USAC recommends submitting these forms as soon as possible so there's enough time to seek help if you need it, respond to USAC's questions about your application, and correct any mistakes before June 30. And, the earlier you submit the form, the faster USAC can process your request and issue the funding.

Start FY2016 Applications As Soon as Possible
There's no time like the present to start your RHC Program application for FY2016 (July 2016 -June 2017). The earlier you apply, the more likely it is that your form will be processed and posted by June 2, the last posting day to receive a full 12 months of funding. 

  • To apply for the Healthcare Connect Fund Program, start with FCC Form 461
  • To apply for the Telecom Program, start with FCC Form 465

Processing times vary, but in general, it takes USAC 5 to 15 days to receive, process and post a form by June 2 (complex applications can take longer). Because of this, we encourage health care providers to file these forms as soon as possible. 

Health care providers can start their application at any time; if the form is posted after June 2, support will be pro-rated. Health care providers with competitive bidding exemptions do not need to file these forms. 

4/6/2016Search Posted Services Tools Now Combined


The Search Posted Services tools for individual health care providers and consortia on the Healthcare Connect Fund website are now combined into a single search tool; service providers may now search for both individual and consortium postings from a single search tool. 

The updated search tool is available here: RHC Program Search Posted Services

Currently, the Search Tools section of our website shows two options under "Search Posted Services" (choose between consortia and individual HCPs). Beginning Wednesday, April 13, the "search posted services" page for consortia will be removed, and search functionality will only be available from the updated search tool.

How to Use the Updated Search Tool
To search for service requests, visit the updated Search Posted Services web page and select either "Individual" or "Consortium" from the "Application Type" drop-down menu.

The search results will show a summary of each healthcare provider whose service request matches the search criteria entered, with the option to view additional information by clicking the "details" hyperlink for the selected HCPs. 

More Information
For more information about Requests for Services, visit the Respond to Service Requests web page for service providers on the Healthcare Connect Fund Program website.

4/5/2016My Portal Outage Due to System Maintenance: Thursday, April 7


The Rural Health Care Program’s My Portal will be unavailable Thursday, April 7 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.

3/31/20162015 USAC Annual Report Now Available


USAC's 2015 Annual Report highlights the strategic groundwork put in place to support the modernization orders from the FCC. USAC developed a strategy and approach to maximize program impact and amplify our dedication to the mission of universal service. The Annual Report demonstrates these strategic shifts and showcases detailed supporting numbers for each program area.

3/29/2016My Portal Outage Due to System Maintenance: Thursday, March 31


The Rural Health Care Program’s My Portal will be unavailable Thursday, March 31 from 7:00-8:30 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.

3/15/2016Limited Telephone Customer Support on Wednesday, March 16


Due to Metrorail's closure, USAC will have limited telephone customer support on Wednesday, March 16 for USAC Customer Operations and the Rural Health Care Program's RHC Help Desk. The Schools and Libraries Client Service Bureau (CSB) will not be affected.

During this time we recommend that you submit all inquiries via email. Thank you!

3/15/2016Multiple System Outages Due to Maintenance: March 15


Portions of USAC's NLAD System, High Cost and Lifeline forms in E-File, and certain tools for the High Cost, Lifeline, Rural Health Care, and Schools and Libraries Programs will be unavailable Tuesday, March 15, beginning at 9:00 PM through 1:00 AM ET, Wednesday, March 16, for system maintenance. Contributor forms, My Portal, and EPC will not be affected. We apologize for any inconvenience.

2/22/2016First Quarter 2016 RHC Circuit Issued


The 1Q2016 RHC Circuit has been issued. To subscribe, please visit our subscription center.

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.