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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Telehealth Policy Group
Meetings on the 2nd Thursday of the month at 2 ET
Colorado Hospital Association
SHLB Members Only