SHLB Encouraged by FCC Actions to Improve Rural Health Care Program January 26, 2023
For Immediate Release
John Windhausen, Jr.
Washington, D.C. (January 26, 2023) - The Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition, a broad-based membership organization that includes health providers and telehealth networks, is encouraged by the FCC’s decision today to adopt an Order on Reconsideration, Second Report and Order, Order, and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Order and Further Notice).
The Order and Further Notice, among other changes, moves away from the unsuccessful rates database for the Telecom Program, proposes to allow new health care providers to receive program funding as soon as they become eligible, and seeks comment on a variety of other issues.
“Better broadband is essential to providing quality and affordable access to rural healthcare that helps millions of families living in Americas heartland. Over half of all rural healthcare applicants are members of SHLB, so we have a strong interest in promoting the success of this program to promote rural telemedicine,” said John Windhausen, Jr., Executive Director of the SHLB Coalition. “The FCC listened to many of our suggestions, and we are especially pleased that the Commission extended the use of existing rates for an additional year to provide applicants more certainty. While the RHC application processing has improved over the past two years, the program is not yet operating as efficiently as the E-rate program, which is a top priority for SHLB, our members and families in need. There are many more steps the FCC can take to improve the program’s effectiveness, and we are pleased that the FCC will seek further comment on these additional ideas to serve more rural healthcare providers and patients."
The SHLB Coalition previously filed comments, reply comments, and Ex Parte summaries in the FCC’s WC Docket No. 17-310 regarding its suggestions for improvements to the RHC Program. Visit http://www.shlb.org/policy/Rural Health-Care to learn more about SHLB’s advocacy to improve our nation’s telehealth.