COVID-19 Update: USAC remains open for business—Washington, DC office closed. Learn more about USF program responses

Announcements

September 21, 2020
New HCF Program FCC Form 460 Feature

When completing the Site Information section on the FCC Form 460, HCF Program applicants will now be prompted to select which active program(s) they are seeking eligibility determinations for: Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Program, Connected Care Pilot Program, COVID-19 Telehealth Program (not currently active).

September 17, 2020
FCC Releases Order DA 20-1092: Certain FY2019 Invoice Deadlines Waived

On September 16, 2020, the FCC released Order DA 20-1092 to provide relief to applicants and service providers who received funding year (FY) 2019 funding commitment letters (FCLs) after or within 180 days of the invoice filing deadline. The Order allows these entities to submit invoices to USAC within 180 days from the later of the release date of this Order or the issuance of an FCL by USAC.

The Order includes an appendix identifying applicants that USAC already knows fall into this waiver category.  These, plus any other applicants and service providers subsequently identified by USAC that fall into this category, may benefit from this waiver.

Applicants and service providers who miss invoice deadlines that fall within these parameters do not need to submit individual requests for a waiver.

September 16, 2020
My Portal Outage Due to System Maintenance Monday, September 21 from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. ET

My Portal will be unavailable on Monday, September 21 from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. ET for maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.

September 4, 2020
FCC Releases PN DA 20-1021: Certain COVID-19 Relief Waivers Further Extended

On September 3, 2020, the FCC released PN DA 20-1021, further extending some waivers granted in March for COVID-19 relief. Due to ongoing disruptions caused by COVID-19 to program participants and the need for robust connectivity, the FCC has extended the gift rule waiver and information request deadline to December 31, 2020. These waivers were originally set to expire on September 30, 2020.

September 3, 2020
FCC Releases PN DA 20-1019: Additional Information About the Connected Care Pilot Program

On September 3, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a Public Notice providing additional information and guidance for potential applicants interested in applying for its Connected Care Pilot Program. The Pilot Program will provide up to $100 million from the Universal Service Fund over a three-year period to support the provision of connected care services, with an emphasis on supporting these services for low income Americans and veterans. The FCC will release a subsequent Public Notice with details regarding application procedures, including the timing of the application window. Read the Public Notice and News Release.

September 3, 2020
RHC Program News for September 2020

View the September Newsletter.

September 1, 2020
My Portal Outage Due to System Maintenance Tuesday, September 1 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET

My Portal will be unavailable on Tuesday, September 1 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. ET for maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.

August 10, 2020
RHC Program News for August 2020

View the August Newsletter.

August 4, 2020
RHC Assist Experiencing Phone Outages due to Inclement Weather

Due to Tropical Storm Isaias, power outages have impacted the RHC Help Desk’s ability to accept applicant phone calls today, August 4. Please email RHC-Assist@usac.org with your questions as we work to resolve this issue.

July 8, 2020
FCC Approves Final Set of COVID-19 Telehealth Program Applications

On July 8, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission’s Wireline Competition Bureau approved the final round of funding applications for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program. Health care providers will use this $10.73 million to provide telehealth services during the coronavirus pandemic. Since the beginning of the FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program, the agency has approved 539 funding applications in 47 states plus Washington, D.C. and Guam for a total of $200 million in funding—the amount of money provided by Congress in the CARES Act. No further applications will be accepted. Read more.

July 2, 2020
RHC Call Center Closed July 3, 2020

The Rural Health Care Customer Call Center will be closed on Friday, July 3 to observe the Independence Day holiday. It will re-open on Monday, July 6 at  8 am ET. 

July 1, 2020
RHC Program News for July 2020

View the July Newsletter.

July 1, 2020
Rurality Tier Search Tool and Rates Database Available Now!

As a reminder, FCC Report and Order 19-78 implemented RHC Program changes that promote transparency, predictability, and further the efficient allocation of limited program resources while guarding against waste, fraud, and abuse. Two major changes included establishing rurality tiers for Telecom Program support and implementing a rates database for Telecom Program applicants. You can now access these two new tools which make program participation and form submission more efficient.

  • Rurality Tier Search Tool – This tool can be used to search, by health care provider (HCP) site location, the applicable rurality tier for your HCP site. The rurality tier is used to calculate the “rural rate” for determining the amount of support for eligible telecommunications services in the Telecom Program. In addition to helping determine your HCP site’s rural rate, the rurality tier is also a factor (together with degree of medical service availability) in determining the prioritization of funding in the event eligible funding requests exceed the amount of available funding for a particular funding year.
  • Telecom Program Rates Database – Beginning in FY2021, the rural and urban rates used to calculate the amount of eligible support for an HCP site location will be the median of available rates as identified in the Rates Database. Telecom Program applicants will use the median rural and urban rates from the Rates Database for the requested telecommunications services when submitting Telecom Funding Requests FCC Form(s) 466.

If there are relevant rates that are not already in the database, the public may submit these rates to USAC for inclusion in the database by emailing RHC-Assist@usac.org with the subject line “Urban and Rural Rate Database” by August 31, 2020.

June 30, 2020
FCC Announces Increase in Rural Health Care Program Funds for FY2020

On June 30, 2020, the FCC Wireline Competition Bureau directed USAC to carry forward up to $197.98 million in unused funds from prior funding years to the extent necessary to satisfy funding year (FY) 2020 demand for the Rural Health Care Program. The total amount of support available to eligible health care providers for FY2020 will be $802.74 million, the most in the Program’s history. Read Public Notice DA 20-688 and News Release.

June 25, 2020
FCC No Longer Accepting Applications for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program

On June 25, 2020 the FCC Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB) released Public Notice DA 20-667, announcing that it will no longer accept new applications for funding from the COVID-19 Telehealth Program (Program). Based on the applications received to date, demand for funding exceeds available Program funds and, as a result, the public interest is not served by imposing burdens on health care providers who may prepare new applications that cannot be funded under the current appropriation. Read the Public Notice.

June 4, 2020
RHC Program News for June 2020

View the June Newsletter.

May 7, 2020
RHC Program News for May 2020

View the May Newsletter.

April 21, 2020
FCC Releases PN DA 20-436

On April 21, 2020, the FCC released Public Notice DA 20-436, suspending the red light rule for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program to facilitate prompt review and processing of the maximum number of applications. Pursuant to the Commission’s rules, action on applications and requests by any entity found to be delinquent in its debt to the Commission may be withheld under the Commission’s “red light” rule, until full payment or resolution of such debt. The Office of the Managing Director and the Wireline Competition Bureau issued this waiver to ensure that otherwise worthy telehealth projects are not unnecessarily turned away due to the “red light” rule during this health crisis.

April 17, 2020
FCC Releases Public Notice DA 20-425

On April 17, 2020, the FCC released Public Notice DA 20-425 giving further guidance to funding recipients on how to invoice the FCC for the services and/or connected devices funded through the COVID-19 Telehealth Program, established under Report and Order FCC 20-44. Under this program, disbursements will be issued directly to the participating health care provider (HCP) rather than to the service providers that have provided the eligible services or equipment to the HCP. HCPs may begin to submit invoices for the eligible services and/or connected devices to the FCC on a monthly basis against the amount indicated in their funding commitment notification. Read the Public Notice.

April 14, 2020
My Portal Outage Due to System Maintenance Tuesday, April 14 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET

My Portal will be undergoing January maintenance between 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, April 14, 2020. During this time, users will be unable to access My Portal. We apologize for any inconvenience.

April 14, 2020
RHC Assist Update

While the phone system is back up and running, we are currently experiencing a high volume of inquiries to RHC-Assist@usac.org due to the outages caused by yesterday’s inclement weather. We continue to process emails as quickly as possible in the order in which they were received, but please allow additional time for a response. For inquiries regarding the COVID-19 Telehealth Program, you can visit our COVID-19 Response web page for general information and direct all questions to EmergencyTelehealthSupport@fcc.gov. Thank you for your patience.

April 13, 2020
RHC Assist Phone Outages due to Inclement Weather

Due to severe storms, power outrages have impacted our ability to accept applicant phone calls today, April 13, 2020. Please email RHC-Assist@usac.org with your questions as we work to resolve this issue.

April 10, 2020
FCC Announces COVID-19 Telehealth Program Application Portal Will Open Monday, April 13

The Federal Communications Commission’s Wireline Competition Bureau will begin accepting applications for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program beginning Monday, April 13, 2020 at 12:00 PM ET at https://www.fcc.gov/covid-19-telehealth-program. The COVID-19 Telehealth Program will provide $200 million in funding, appropriated by Congress as part of the CARES Act, to help health care providers furnish connected care services to patients at their homes or mobile locations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To assist applicants in preparing their applications, an explainer video will also be posted on Monday on the FCC’s website. Questions specific to the application process should be directed to EmergencyTelehealthSupport@fcc.gov.

April 10, 2020
RHC’s COVID-19 Response Page Available Now

Find all of the information about the FCC and USAC’s response to COVID-19 here. We will continue to update this page with more resources and information.

April 9, 2020
FCC Public Notice DA 20-394: Application Guidance for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program

On April 8, 2020 the FCC released Public Notice DA 20-394, providing guidance on actions applicants can take to prepare themselves for filing an application for COVID-19 Telehealth Program funding, established in Report and Order 20-44.

There are three steps interested health care providers can take immediately to prepare to apply for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program: (1) obtain an eligibility determination from USAC with an FCC Form 460 (2) obtain an FCC Registration Number (FCC RN); and (3) register with System for Award Management.

It is recommended that you complete these steps now so you’re prepared to submit for program funding as soon as applications can be accepted by the Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB). The WCB will release a subsequent Public Notice announcing the application acceptance date immediately following the effective date of the COVID-19 Telehealth Program information collection requirements.

USAC will provide additional guidance over the next few days. Read the Public Notice here.

April 3, 2020
FCC Adopts $200 Million COVID-19 Telehealth Program

On April 2, 2020 the Federal Communications Commission adopted Report and Order 20-44. Recognizing that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic represents extraordinary and unprecedented public health challenges, the FCC took necessary steps to adopt a new $200 Million COVID-19 program that will provide immediate support to health care providers and patients across the country. The COVID-19 Telehealth Program, funded through a recent Congressional appropriation, will immediately support health care providers responding to the pandemic by providing funding for telecommunications services, information services, and devices necessary to enable the provision of telehealth services, on a temporary basis. A separate Connected Care Pilot Program will provide up to $100 million of support from the Universal Service Fund (USF) to help defray health care providers’ costs of providing connected care services and to help assess how the USF can be used in the long-term to support telehealth. Read the Report and Order here. USAC will provide additional information in the upcoming days.

April 2, 2020
RHC Program News for April 2020

View the April Newsletter.

March 26, 2020
FCC Releases Order 20-345: FY2020 Filing Window Extended, Additional Relief Provided to HCPs Due to COVID-19

On March 26, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released Order 20-345, granting additional relief to Rural Health Care (RHC) Program participants to ensure that health care providers (HCPs) have the resources they need to effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the Order takes following actions: (1) extends the FY2020 RHC Program application filing window until June 30, 2020; (2) eases competitive bidding requirements for HCPs with expiring evergreen contracts; and (3) provides an extension of several procedural deadlines, including information requests and the HCF Program invoicing deadline. The RHC Program will provide additional information about these actions over the next week. Read the Order here and download the Tip Sheet.

March 18, 2020
FCC Announces Waiver of the RHC Program Gift Rules

On March 18, 2020, the FCC issued Order DA 20-290, waiving the RHC Program’s gift rules to provide assistance to rural health care providers (HCPs) responding to COVID-19. In the Order, the FCC recognizes that the pandemic will increase the need for connectivity and broadband services. The gift rules waiver removes regulatory obstacles that would otherwise prevent a service provider from voluntarily offering equipment or services to HCPs to help them improve connectivity and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic more effectively.  Specifically, the Order:

  • Allows service providers to offer, and for HCPs to solicit or accept, free upgrades, connected devices, networking equipment, services and other things of value.
  • Waives the requirement that prohibits a service provider from reducing the unsubsidized portion of charges for services paid by HCPs.
  • Waives the requirement that HCPs pay the urban rate for services provided in the Telecom Program.

These waivers are limited to HCPs involved in the screening and treatment of patients for COVID-19 and for providing services to other patients in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The waivers are in effect through September 30, 2020.

March 16, 2020
USAC Remains Open for Business – DC Office Closed

At USAC, we are committed to the health and safety of our employees, contractors, and stakeholders during the COVID-19 pandemic. USAC remains fully operational.

USAC’s Washington, DC office is closed. USAC staff will work remotely and can be reached at their USAC email and telephone numbers. 

While the way we work has changed, USAC will conduct the regular and ongoing work administering the Universal Service Fund. This includes processing and reviewing program applications, collecting contributions, disbursing payments, and implementing program guidance from the FCC. 

All USAC customer support centers remain open. Please be patient if you experience longer than usual wait times with our customer service teams as circumstances continue to change. 

To submit program documents to USAC, please use your normal submission channels or email RHA-assist@usac.org.

If you send other documents to USAC via mail or overnight delivery, you must also email a PDF copy to Outreach@usac.org.

USAC continues to monitor developments and will implement additional precautions if necessary. This is an evolving situation, and we will keep you informed of any changes as they arise.

March 13, 2020
FCC Announces Increase to Rural Health Care Funding for FY2019

The total Rural Health Care Program demand for FY2019 was $719.48 million, which exceeded the $677.29 million in previously available funding. The Order permits USAC to carry forward additional unused funds from prior years to cover this funding gap and waives the cap on multi-year commitments and upfront payments that would result in unnecessary reductions in support for rural health care providers and their patients absent the action the Commission took today. The FCC recognizes that COVID-19 presents serious challenges to healthcare providers, and they need enhanced connectivity to provide vital services to Americans. Read more.

March 12, 2020
FCC Announces FY2020 Funding Cap

On March 12, 2020 the FCC released Public Notice DA 20-263, announcing the RHC Program funding cap for funding year (FY) 2020. The RHC Program funding cap for FY2020 is $604,759,306. The cap for upfront payments and multi-year commitments under the Healthcare Connect Fund Program is $152,700,000. These new caps represent a 1.8% inflation-adjusted increase in the $594,066,116 RHC Program funding cap and the cap on multi-year commitments and upfront payments from funding year 2019. Read PN DA 20-263.

March 5, 2020
RHC Program News for March

View the March 2020 Newsletter.

February 6, 2020
RHC Program News for February

View the February 2020 newsletter.

January 29, 2020
Request for Services Data Set Available Now!

We are very excited to announce the posting of Request for Services Data Set to the USAC Open Data Portal. The data set contains data from the FCC Forms 461 and 465 about services requested for current and past funding years. In the open data portal you are able to filter, sort, and visualize the data in many different ways.

January 10, 2020
My Portal Outage Due to System Maintenance January 17 – 18

My Portal will be undergoing January maintenance between 9:00 p.m. ET Friday, January 17 and 9:00 a.m. ET Saturday, January 18. During this time, users may be unable to access My Portal. We apologize for any inconvenience.

January 7, 2020
Submit FY2020 Request for Services (FCC Form 461 and/or Form 465) Now!

Applicants applying for funding in FY2020 who are going through the competitive bidding process can now submit their FCC Form 461 (HCF Program) and/or FCC Form 465 (Telecom Program). The first day to submit these forms was January 1, 2020—six months before the start of the funding year, which begins July 1, 2020. Prepare to submit your Request for Services form with the following resources:

January 2, 2020
RHC Program News for January 2020

View the January 2020 Newsletter.

December 16, 2019
RHC Assist Holiday Hours

Please be aware the the RHC Program Help Desk will be closed December 24, 25, and January 1. On December 31, the hours will be 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. ET.

December 13, 2019
My Portal Outage Due to System Maintenance December 13-14

My Portal will be undergoing December maintenance between 9:00 p.m. ET Friday, December 13 and 10:00 a.m. Saturday, December 14. During this time, users may be unable to access My Portal. We apologize for any inconvenience.

December 13, 2019
PQA Requests for Information Are Going Out

The 2020 Payment Quality Assurance (PQA) assessment program is underway. PQA is a program that assesses RHC Program payments made on invoices submitted during the past 12 months to verify that the payments were properly made – in other words, that all program rules were followed correctly when the payment was authorized and disbursed.

For disbursements made each month, a certain number of payments will be chosen, and applicants will be asked to provide specific documentation – for example, customer bills that support invoices submitted to USAC – to verify that those payments were made correctly. It is important that you maintain proper documentation in order to be able to respond correctly and completely to PQA requests.

The email request notifying applicants whose payments have been selected for PQA are being sent the third week of December from the domain name PQA@USACcms.i-sight.com. Please check your email and respond promptly if you receive an email from USAC’s PQA Program. Also check your spam folder or junk email folder to see if it contains an email from this domain. This will help expedite your review.

  • Do not hesitate to contact your reviewer if you have questions. Contact information is provided in the email.
  • Also, contact your PQA reviewer if you are unable to respond by the deadline     
December 12, 2019
FCC Releases Public Notice DA 19-1253

On December 10, 2019, the FCC released Public Notice DA 19-1253, providing guidance on the implementation schedule for reforms set forth by FCC Report and Order 19-78. Read DA 19-1253 for more information.

December 10, 2019
My Portal Outage Thursday, December 12 from 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. ET

My Portal will be unavailable Thursday, December 12 from 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. ET due to system maintenance. We apologize for any inconvenience.

December 6, 2019
RHC Program News for December 2019

View the December Newsletter.

December 2, 2019
My Portal Outage Tuesday, December 3 from 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. ET

My Portal will be unavailable Tuesday, December 3 from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET due to system maintenance. We apologize for any inconvenience.

December 2, 2019
My Portal Security Updates Coming Soon

Beginning Wednesday, December 4, USAC will add multi-factor authentication (MFA) to increase the security of most Universal Service Fund (USF) IT applications. MFA helps safeguard access to data and applications, and provides additional security by requiring a second form of user authentication. This complies with both Federal and FCC information security guidelines. Read more about MFA.

November 22, 2019
FY2020 Filing Window Dates Announced

The FY2020 filing window period will take place from February 1 – April 30, 2020. This means that you must submit your funding requests (FCC Forms 462 or 466) as early as February 1 and no later than 11:59 p.m. ET April 30, 2020, for the initial filing window period. We highly encourage you to submit your application forms as early as possible in the filing window period. Other application forms for FY2020 (FCC Forms 460, 461, or 465) are accepted prior to February 1 to begin the application process. Learn more about filing window periods.

November 12, 2019
RHC Program News for November 2019

View the November newsletter.

November 11, 2019
My Portal Outage Wednesday, November 13 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET

My Portal will be unavailable Wednesday, November 13 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET due to system maintenance. We apologize for any inconvenience.

October 7, 2019
RHC Program News for October 2019
View the October Newsletter.
September 9, 2019
RHC Program News for September 2019

View the September Newsletter.

September 9, 2019
HCF Program Annual Reports Due September 30

Per Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Program rules, all consortia receiving Rural Health Care (RHC) Program funding are required to submit an annual report to USAC using an Excel template (available for download on the USAC website) to supplement information collected in RHC Program application forms. The reports for FY2018 (July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019) are due September 30, 2019.

Who Needs to Submit the Annual Report? HCF Program consortia must submit an annual report for each funding year in which the consortium received HCF support and for the life of a supported facility for which the consortium received large upfront payments. 

August 30, 2019
FCC Releases Report and Order 19-78: Promoting Telehealth in Rural America

On August 20, 2019, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a Report and Order reforming the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program to promote transparency and predictability, and to further the efficient allocation of limited program resources while guarding against waste, fraud, and abuse. More information available on the USAC website and you can read the Report and Order here

For a summary of the upcoming changes, watch the recording of the Report and Order 19-78 Summary Webinar held on September 4, view the Report and Order 19-78 web page or download the Report and Order 19-78 Tip Sheet.