Rural Health Care

Step 3 Determine Eligibility

Members of the applying consortium and the requested services must both be eligible for support. There are two initial criteria a consortium member must meet to be considered eligible:

  1. The health care provider (HCP) must be a public or nonprofit entity, and
  2. The HCP must be one of the following types of entities:
    1. Post-secondary educational institutions offering health care instruction, such as teaching hospitals or medical schools,
    2. Community health centers or health centers providing health care to migrants,
    3. Local health departments or agencies,
    4. Community mental health centers,
    5. Not-for-profit hospitals,
    6. Rural health clinics including mobile clinics,
    7. Dedicated emergency room of a rural for-profit hospital, or
    8. Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) (effective January 1, 2017).

In addition, broadband connections associated with off-site data centers and off-site administrative offices that are used by eligible HCPs for their health care purposes are eligible for funding.

Each HCP site or location is considered an individual HCP for purposes of calculating support under the RHC Program. Each site must thus demonstrate that by itself, it is an eligible entity.


Both rural and non-rural entities may receive funding in the Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Program as members of a consortium, provided that the consortium is comprised of a majority rural (more than 50 percent) sites within three years of the filing date of its first request for funding (FCC Form 462). Find out if an HCP is located in a rural area by using the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program's Eligible Rural Areas Search Tool.

Grandfathered HCPs

The FCC designated some HCPs as being grandfathered for the purposes of determining eligibility.

  • HCPs that were deemed rural prior to July 1, 2005, and received at least one funding commitment for services provided prior to July 1, 2005, are considered grandfathered rural and remain eligible. They will be counted as a rural participant for purposes of calculating the rural/non-rural ratio for consortia.
  • Non-rural HCPs that participated in the RHC Pilot Program as an urban health clinic and received a funding commitment as of December 12, 2012, are considered grandfathered and remain eligible for the Pilot Program project for which it originally received funding. Unless grandfathered, urban health clinics are ineligible for the HCF Program and the Telecommunications Program. The grandfathered status does not carry over if they seek to be a member of any other consortium.

FCC Form 460

An FCC Form 460 (Eligibility and Registration Form) must be submitted for each member of a consortium, even if that member has been deemed eligible to participate in another component of the Telecommunications Program or Pilot Program. With a letter of agency (LOA), the consortium leader will file all program forms on behalf of the member HCPs. A letter of exemption (LOE) provides written authorization to the project coordinator of a consortium to file for ineligible sites or sites owned and operated by the consortium.

The FCC Form 460 may be submitted at any time during the funding year, and only needs to be filed once to establish an HCP's eligibility, but must be filed prior to the filing of any other FCC Forms 461, 462, or 463. If any HCP information filed on the FCC Form 460 changes, such as the site's physical location, statistical information, or eligible entity type, a new FCC Form 460 must be filed within 30 days.

Third party authorizations (TPAs) must be submitted with the FCC Form 460. For more information about TPAs, see the Third Party Authorization page.

All FCC forms and supporting documentation must be submitted through My Portal, the RHC Program application management system.

Eligible Services

Once a consortium applicant has been approved as eligible, they should ensure that the services being requested are eligible for support. The applicant must follow all posting for services and competitive bidding requirements before entering into a contract with a service provider.