The Rural Health Care (RHC) program, created by Congress in the 1996 Telecommunications Act, enables hospitals and health clinics to purchase discounted broadband services necessary to provide telehealth to their communities. A surging demand for telehealth over the last several years has put stress on RHC program administrators and applicants. While the Federal Communications Commission improved the program by raising the RHC funding cap in 2017, the lack of an automated application processing system, uncertain definitions of “rural,” and funding limitations still need to be addressed.

In 2020 and 2021, Congress appropriated additional temporary funding for a COVID-19 Telehealth program to address the health emergency. The Commission also created a small Connected Care pilot program to bring telemedicine to veterans and low-income families. The SHLB Coalition supports these efforts and meets regularly with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) and FCC officials to improve all these programs.

Key Documents

March 2020
Promoting Telehealth for Low-Income Consumers / COVID-19 Telehealth Program


October 2019
Promoting Telehealth in Rural America



SHLB's Advocacy


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Ex parte letter to the FCC regarding the RHC FNPRM
June 2, 2022

The SHLB Coalition wrote to the FCC reiterating the Rural Health Care program suggestions made in SHLB's recent comments and reply comments.


Download the Letter 


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Reply comments to the FCC regarding the RHC FNPRM
May 16, 2022

In our reply comments, the SHLB Coalition asked the FCC to increase the RHC program cap, eliminate or reform the internal cap, expand the definition of rurality, and other actions that would improve the program.


Download the Comments


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Comments on the FNPRM about Rural Health Care Program rules

April 14, 2022


The SHLB Coalition submitted comments in response to the FCC's Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Rural Health Care Program. The comments include recommendations about the Telecom Program rates database, defining rurality, and reforming the internal and overall cap.



Download the Comments


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Ex Parte letter to the FCC re: FNPRM deadline extension
March 22, 2022

The SHLB Coalition wrote to the FCC requesting that it publish non-confidential RHC program funding demand data. SHLB also asked that the FCC extend the deadline to file comments for the recent FNPRM.



Download the Letter



View Archived Documents →


Telehealth Policy Group

Meetings on the 2nd Thursday of the month at 2 ET


Rob Jenkins
Colorado Hospital Association

Anne Turner

Meeting Notes

SHLB Members Only