Announcements

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:

Rule Changes

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:

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.

More Information

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:

November 22, 2022
USAC Customer Service Centers Closed – November 24-25, 2022

In observance of the Thanksgiving holiday, the USAC Customer Service Centers will be closed Thursday, November 24 and Friday, November 25.

The Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) Customer Service Centers will remain open on Friday, November 25.

November 3, 2022
RHC Program News

View the November Newsletter

October 28, 2022
Begin Draft Funding Request for FY2023 on November 1!

In preparation for Funding Year (FY) 2023, applicants can draft funding requests in RHC Connect and My Portal beginning on November 1. The FY2023 filing window opens on December 1, 2022 and closes on April 3, 2023. Draft forms will remain in RHC Connect and My Portal and can be submitted on December 1.  

Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Program participants will use RHC Connect to submit their FCC Forms 462 (Funding Request Forms) for FY2023. Participants in the Telecommunications (Telecom) Program will continue to utilize My Portal to submit their FCC Forms 466 (Funding Request Form) for FY2023.

NOTE: Connected Care Pilot Program projects will continue to use My Portal to submit all FCC forms.

To learn more, please visit the following webpages:

October 27, 2022
New! Enhanced Request for Services Data Set on Open Data Replaces Search Posted Services Tool for FY2023!

An enhanced Search Posted Services tool is now available. This tool is a streamlined version of the Rural Health Care Posted Services (FCC Forms 461 and 465) data set, making it easier to search for posted services and download documents. This tool, and the underlying data set, have replaced the HCF Search Posted Services tool for Funding Year (FY) 2023 and forward. The data set contains data from the FCC Forms 461 and 465, i.e., services requested for current and past funding years. The open data portal allows you to filter, sort, and visualize the data in many different ways. There are hyperlinks in columns where you can download the PDF version of the FCC Form 461, Request for Proposals (RFP), and any other additional documentation submitted with the FCC Form 461.

NOTE: Please do not use the Search Posted Services tool to find FY2023 FCC Forms 461 for HCF.

For Connected Care Pilot Program data, please continue to use the Search Posted Services tool to search for publicly posted requests for services.

October 6, 2022
RHC Program News

View the October Newsletter

October 4, 2022
FCC Releases Hurricane Ian Relief Order

On October 4, 2022, the Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB) of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released an Order (DA 22-1063) that waives certain E-Rate, Emergency Connectivity Fund, Rural Health Care, COVID-19 Telehealth, Lifeline, Affordable Connectivity Program, and High Cost rules and deadlines to assist participants and service providers located in the areas affected by Hurricane Ian, which struck Florida on September 28, 2022 and the states of North Carolina and South Carolina on September 29, 2022. For detailed information, please refer to the Order.

September 29, 2022
RHC Connect Update – Submit Your FCC Form 463 for FY2022 Funding Commitments!

The FCC Form 463 is now available in RHC Connect for Funding Year (FY) 2022 funding commitments. The platform change affects only Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Program participants. HCF Program applicants submitting FCC Forms 460 and 463 (for funding years prior to FY2022) will continue to do so in My Portal. Participants in the Telecommunications (Telecom) Program and the Connected Care Pilot Program (CCPP) will not be affected, unless those applicants also participate in the HCF Program.

To learn more, please visit the Welcome to RHC Connect webpage.

September 22, 2022
FCC Releases Hurricane Fiona Relief Order

On September 22, 2022, the Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB) of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released an Order (DA 22-998) that waives certain E-Rate, Emergency Connectivity Fund, Rural Health Care, COVID-19 Telehealth, Lifeline, and Affordable Connectivity Program rules and deadlines to assist participants and service providers, including Universal Service Fund contributors, located in the areas affected by Hurricane Fiona, which struck Puerto Rico on September 18, 2022. For detailed information, please refer to the Order.

September 7, 2022
FY2021 Annual Report Due September 30!

All Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) participants receiving Rural Health Care (RHC) program funding are required to submit an annual report to USAC by September 30 following the funding year in which funding was provided. Per FCC Order 19-78, both individual and consortia applicants must submit the report to USAC using the FY2021 Annual Report Template. Applicants should email the completed template to RHC-Outreach@usac.org with “Annual Report” in the subject line by the deadline. This information will supplement information collected in HCF Program forms and includes information allowing the FCC to assess progress towards the performance goals and measures of the HCF Program. 

September 1, 2022
RHC Program News

View the September Newsletter

August 18, 2022
USAC One Portal Maintenance – August 26

USAC will perform system updates on One Portal beginning at 8 p.m. ET on August 26 through 2 a.m. ET on August 27.

During this time all applications within One Portal will be unavailable including E-File, the E-Rate Productivity Center (EPC), SL Legacy systems, the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD), Lifeline Claims System (LCS), Rural Health Care’s My Portal and the High Cost Universal Broadband (HUBB) portal. The Lifeline National Eligibility Verifier (National Verifier) WILL NOT be affected during this system update.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

All announcements can be found in the Announcements Archive.

Go to Archive