Rural Health Care Program


The Rural Health Care Program is made up of the Healthcare Connect Fund, the Telecommunications Program, and the Rural Health Care Pilot Program. 

For the first time, demand for funds in the RHC Program met or exceeded its $400 million cap in fiscal year 2016.  On January 13, 2017, the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) announced that the third filing window for FY2016 was cancelled due to insufficient funds. This lack of funding could cause some healthcare providers to lose broadband connections, harming patients who rely on telemedicine services.

To address the RHC Program’s short-term fiscal emergency, the SHLB Coalition (along with several telehealth networks identified below) filed a letter with the FCC on November 30, 2016 proposing that the FCC roll over unused RHC funds from prior years, as it does in the E-rate program. Re-allocating unused RHC funds from prior years could address the short-term funding shortfall without increasing the fees paid by consumers to support the Universal Service Fund.

Over one year ago, the SHLB Coalition also filed a broader Petition for Rulemaking urging the FCC to reform the RHC program.  Most of the comments filed on this Petition supported moving forward with the rulemaking proceeding, but the previous FCC did not act on the Petition.  

Documents on Rural Health Care Program

Apr. 10, 2017 SHLB Press Release Encouraging RHC Reform
Apr. 10, 2017 USAC Announces Decrease in FY2016 RHC Funding [webinar]
Feb. 27, 2016 Senators' Letter Calling on FCC To Protect Broadband Funding for Rural Healthcare Clinics
Dec. 1, 2016 SHLB Petition re Interim Rural Healthcare Cap Relief
Jan. 29, 2016 SHLB Healthcare Reform Petition Reply Comments 
Dec. 8, 2015 SHLB Announces Filing Petition for Rulemaking to Modernize the Rural Health Care Program 
Dec. 7, 2015 Petition for Rulemaking to Modernize the Rural Health Care Program 
Sept. 1, 2014 SHLB Summary of HCF Working Group
May 20, 2013 SHLB RHC Dark Fiber Reply Comments




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