April 27, 2023
RHC Connect Outage Due to System Maintenance on April 29
RHC Connect will be unavailable on Saturday, April 29 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET for monthly system maintenance. During this time, users will be unable to log in to and use the RHC platforms. We apologize for any inconvenience.
April 12, 2023
RHC Program News
March 8, 2023
FCC Releases Order DA 23-189 Extending the Deadline for Funding Year (FY) 2023 Filing Window to May 1, 2023.
On March 8, 2023, the FCC released FCC Order DA 23-189 extending the deadline for the FY2023 Application Filing Window to May 1, 2023. This means all funding requests (FCC Forms 462 or 466) must be submitted no later than 11:59 p.m. ET on May 1, 2023. We highly encourage you to submit your funding requests as early as possible in the filing window.
Visit USAC’s website for more information about filing windows.
March 7, 2023
Update: Change in Requirements for Document Upload – FCC Form 463
Supporting documentation for invoices and proof of payment related to the FCC Form 463 (Invoicing Form) is no longer required in RHC Connect to move forward with the submission of the FCC Form 463. However, upon selection for manual review or audit, RHC will require submission of all documents for all requested billing period(s). Please be mindful that program rules require applicants to have all supporting documentation available when forms are submitted, and for five years thereafter. For more information about the invoicing process, please visit the Step 6: Invoice USAC (HCF) and Step 6: Invoice USAC (Telecom).
March 6, 2023
RHC Program Inflation-Based Cap Announced for FY2023
The RHC program funding cap for funding year (FY) 2023 is $682,361,586. The internal cap for upfront payments and multi-year commitments under the Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Program is $172,294,354. Beginning in FY2023, the internal cap for upfront payments and multi-year commitments will apply only if RHC program demand exceeds available funding. These new caps represent a 7 percent inflation-adjusted increase to the $637,721,108 RHC program funding cap and the $161,022,731 internal cap on multi-year commitments and upfront payments from FY2022. Read the announcement.
March 2, 2023
RHC Program News
View the March Newsletter
February 22, 2023
RHC-Connect Outage Due to System Upgrade: February 24, 2023
RHC Connect will be unavailable on Friday, February 24 from 7 p.m. until 12 a.m. ET due to a scheduled system upgrade. During this time, users will be unable to log in to and use RHC Connect. We apologize for any inconvenience.
February 2, 2023
RHC Program News
View the February Newsletter
February 1, 2023
FCC Releases Order on Reconsideration, Second Report and Order, Order, and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Strengthening Rural Health Care Program Procedures
On January 26, 2023, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released an Order on Reconsideration, Second Report and Order, Order, and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking strengthening the procedures for the Rural Health Care (RHC) program. These actions resolve petitions for reconsideration on issues from FCC Report and Order 19-78, adopt proposals from the February 2022 Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and propose and seek comment on further reforms to RHC program rules. These actions include:
Rates determination in the Telecommunications (Telecom) Program
- The Order on Reconsideration eliminates rules requiring use of the Rates Database to determine urban and rural rates.
- The waivers allowing the use of previously approved rates for all urban and rural rates will remain in place for Funding Year (FY) 2023.
- Beginning in FY2024, rules requiring rural rates to be calculated using Methods 1 through 3 and the pre-Rates Database calculation method for urban rates will be reinstated with the following minor changes:
- For FY2024 and 2025, service providers will be permitted to use previously approved rates for rural rates that would otherwise be calculated under Method 3.
- If there are no comparable rural rates within 30 percent of the speed of the requested service, service providers may use the rate for a higher bandwidth service that is otherwise similar to the requested service to justify a rural rate.
- Similarly, if there are no comparable urban rates within 30 percent of the speed of the requested service, health care providers may use the rate for a higher bandwidth service that is otherwise similar to the requested service to justify an urban rate.
- The Order on Reconsideration affirms the decisions in FCC 19-78 that a non-telecommunications service that is functionally similar to a service requested in the Telecom Program should be considered similar to it when calculating rates and that services with advertised speeds 30 percent above or below the speed of the requested service be considered functionally similar to the requested service.
- Invoicing in the Telecom Program
- The Second Report and Order eliminates the use of the Health Care Provider Support Schedule (HSS) and moves invoice submission until after services have been provided.
- Internal cap on upfront costs and multi-year commitments in the Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Program
- The Second Report and Order limits the application of the internal cap on upfront costs and multi-year commitments in the HCF Program to when the total support available for the funding year is exceeded.
- When the internal cap applies, funding requests for upfront costs and the first year of multi-year commitments will be prioritized over the second and third year of multi-year commitments.
Potential Future Rule Changes
The Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposes:
- Adjustments to the methods used to determine rural rates using the service provider’s own rates or competitor’s rates, a new process for determining cost-based rural rates, and changes to the process for determining urban rates.
- Allowing a conditional approval of eligibility to allow entities that will soon become eligible to participate in the RHC program to begin competitive bidding and file a Request for Services.
- Moving the Service Provider Identification Number (SPIN) change deadline to align with the invoice deadline.
The Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks comment on:
- Reinstating the cap on satellite services in the Telecom Program.
- Funding in the HCF Program for equipment used for Telecom Program supported connections.
- Whether there should be a process for changing the dates of evergreen contracts after a funding commitment is issued.
- Revisions to data collected in the Telecom Program.
Other Action Taken
- The Order on Reconsideration maintains rurality tiers for prioritization and affirms the existence of the internal cap and a prioritization system when demand exceeds available funding.
- The Order dismisses as moot Applications for Review of the Bureau’s guidance to USAC regarding the Rates Database.
Read the Order on Reconsideration, Second Report and Order, Order, and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.
January 5, 2023
RHC Program News
View the January Newsletter
December 23, 2022
USAC Customer Service Centers (CSC) Closed – Christmas Holiday
In observance of the Christmas holiday, the USAC Customer Service Centers will be closed on Sunday, December 25 (per usual weekend closure), and Monday, December 26.
The Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) Customer Service Centers will be closed on Sunday, December 25, and will reopen on Monday, December 26.
To find CSC contact information, weekly hours, and the annual holiday closure schedule, visit our Contact Us webpage.
December 2, 2022
RHC Program News
View the December Newsletter
December 1, 2022
Submit Your FY2023 Funding Requests Now!
The FY2023 Filing Window opens today, December 1, 2022. Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Program applicants can now submit the FCC Form 462 in RHC Connect and Telecommunications (Telecom) Program applicants can now submit the FCC Form 466 in My Portal. The filing window closes at 11:59 p.m. ET on April 3, 2023. We encourage all applicants to submit funding requests as early as possible during the filing window.
Here are some resources to assist you during the submission process:
- Funding Request Best Practices for FY2023 Webinars
- Funding Request Summary
- Funding Year Overview
- Urban and Rural Rate Information FY2023 – Telecom Program
HCF Program – RHC Connect
RHC Connect is the online system used to host the HCF forms. RHC Connect allows RHC program reviewers to approve funding requests faster, so that you can benefit from the HCF funding sooner.
Please visit the Welcome to RHC Connect – FCC Form 462 webpage for more information about submitting FY2023 funding requests. The following resources are available to help you submit your funding requests:
Telecom Program – My Portal
All FY2023 Telecom Program forms and supporting documentation must be submitted to USAC by filing online through My Portal. The following resources are available to help you submit your funding requests:
New for the Telecom Program – Urban and Rural Rates for FY2023
On May 25, 2022, the FCC released Order DA 22-580, waiving the requirement to use the Rates Database for urban and rural rates for all health care providers (HCPs) nationwide for FY2023. Applicants will use preexisting rules to calculate rates using Method 1, 2 or 3. Please use the Urban and Rural Rate Information FY2023 tip sheet as a resource.
You must submit funding requests to USAC between December 1, 2022 and April 3, 2023 to be eligible for funding. Read more about funding requests: