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Choosing Which RHC Program Is Right for You

The Rural Health Care (RHC) program is made up of two programs: the Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) program and the Telecommunications (Telecom) program. It is important, as a new health care provider (HCP), to make an informed decision about the program(s) you apply to participate in. HCPs can apply to participate in both programs, but cannot receive funding for the same circuit in each program.

Is your site eligible?

Your site must meet the following criteria to be eligible in the RHC program:

  1. Must be a public or nonprofit entity
  2. Must be one of the following types of facilities:
    • A post-secondary educational institution offering healthcare instruction, such as teaching hospitals or medical schools,
    • A community health center or health center providing healthcare to migrants,
    • A local health department or agency,
    • A community mental health center,
    • A not-for-profit hospital,
    • A rural health clinic,
    • A dedicated emergency room of a rural for-profit hospital
    • A skilled nursing facility (SNF), or
    • A consortium of health care providers (HCPs) that includes at least one of the facilities mentioned in above (HCF program only)
  3. Must be in a rural location as defined by the FCC.* If your site is not located in a rural area, it still may be eligible to apply to the HCF program as part of a consortium.

Only you can decide which program is best for you, based on your circumstances, but you can use the Program Comparison table below to help.

Please keep in mind that the list of eligible expenses below only includes common examples. It can help you pick a program, but it is not a complete list of all eligible expenses, and does not guarantee approval of your funding request. Eligibility of expenses and sites can only be determined during a formal review.

Program Examples of Common Eligible Expenses* Application Options Competitive Bidding Exemptions Discount Years of Funding
Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Broadband services, and network equipment, HCP-Constructed and owned network facilities. Apply as an individual HCP

Apply as a member of a consortium

HCF program applicants have the option of four competitive bidding exemptions. 65% discount rate for eligible expenses Can request multi-year funding for up to three funding years.
Telecommunications Program
(Telecom Program)
Telecommunication services. Apply as an individual HCP Telecom program applicants have the option of using every competitive bidding exemption except the $10,000 or less. Urban/rural differential Must seek new funding commitment for each funding year

Examples of Eligible Products and Services

Once you decide which program is right for you, you can begin the application process. The process is very similar for each program, but there are some differences. The graphic below provides an overview of the steps you need to take to receive funding:

More information on each step of the process can be found here: HCF program, Telecom program.

Still not sure? Watch our beginners webinar RHC 101, or contact or the RHC Customer Service Center at (800) 453-1546 from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. ET Monday through Friday for assistance. Use the RHC Customer Service Center Tip Sheet to learn about what the RHC Customer Service Center can and cannot help you with.

*Eligibility of sites and services is determined during a formal form review.

The material on these webpages is provided for general information purposes only and should not be relied upon or used as the sole basis for making decisions without consulting the RHC program rules, orders, and other primary sources of information. Applicants and service providers are ultimately responsible for knowing and complying with all RHC program rules and requirements.