Rural Health Care Program
For the first time, demand for funds in the Rural Health Care (RHC) program exceeded the $400 million cap in fiscal year 2016, resulting in serious cutbacks. In 2018, the Federal Communications Commission announced a pro-rata reduction of funding for individual applicants of over 15 percent, and an astounding 25 percent reduction for consortia applicants. This funding shortage could cause some healthcare providers to lose broadband connections, harming patients who rely on telemedicine services. At a time when rural Americans struggle to obtain high-quality Internet connections and suffer from the closure of rural hospitals, this funding reduction will lead to price increases for healthcare providers across the country, and devastatingly impact the quality of rural healthcare.
November 12, 2019
SHLB petitioned the FCC to reconsider portions of its "Promoting Telehealth in Rural America" Report and Order, adopted in August 2019.
July 25, 2019
July 22, 2019
SHLB submitted an ex parte filing asking the FCC to postpone its adoption of the proposed Report and Order reforming the Rural Health Care program.
March 15, 2019
SHLB submitted an ex parte filing expressing its deep concern regarding the operation of the RHC program.
February 13, 2019
SHLB submitted reply comments to the FCC in the proceeding WC Docket No. 17-310, urging the Commission to reject AT&T's proposal to phase out the Telecom Program outside of Alaska.
January 30, 2019
SHLB submitted these comments in response to the Wireline Competition Bureau’s public notice seeking comment on how to determine the urban and rural rates in the Telecom Program. The FCC’s current proposal suggests calculating the rural rate that carriers may charge using an average of all “publicly available” rates. SHLB’s comments express concern that this proposal would create an unpredictable process, as rates vary based on technology and location, and are particularly difficult to triangulate in rural areas.
November 27, 2018
The ex parte letter describes SHLB's frustration with the lack of transparency in the RHC program and the pace of funding decisions for 2018 applicants.
September 10, 2018
These comments offer support and recommendations for the Connected Care Pilot Program the FCC proposed in a Notice of Inquiry released on August 3, 2018.
May 3, 2018
April 3, 2018
The SHLB Coalition filed an emergency petition with the FCC asking it to waive the RHC program’s $400 million funding cap and fully fund qualified applications until the open rulemaking proceeding to reform the program concludes.
The Universal Service Administrative Company’s (USAC) recent announcement that it will cut funding by over 15 percent for individual RHC applicants and 25 percent for consortia applicants for Funding Year 2017 (FY2017) will severely degrade the quality of healthcare in rural America. The announced funding cuts were much larger than the 7.5 percent reduction for FY2016 and were announced over eight months into the funding year. These severe cuts in funding effectively impose retroactive rate increases on healthcare providers who have been receiving service from July 1, 2017.
March 5, 2018
February 2, 2018
SHLB press release encouraging RHC reform after USAC announces decreases in FY2016 funding
April 10, 2017
Washington, D.C. (April 10, 2017) - The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) announced earlier today that qualifying applicants in the Rural Health Care Program who submitted requests for funding during the September – November 2016 filing window period will not be fully funded. Qualifying applicants for the FY2016 September – November filing window period will receive a pro-rata percentage of 92.5 percent of their requested funding (a reduction of 7.5 percent).
February 27, 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) led five of his colleagues, including Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), in sending a bipartisan letter calling on the Federal Communications Commission to work to avoid cuts or spending reductions to the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program, which helps deliver vital healthcare services and telemedicine to people who live in rural areas by providing funding for broadband.
SHLB Rural Health Care Blogs