Rural Health Care Program


Telehealth TabletFor 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.


SHLB'S ADVOCACY

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Ex Parte letter to the FCC re: Delaying RHC Rates Database
March 8, 2021
 

The SHLB Coalition met with the FCC to advocate for delaying implementation of the Rates Database.

 

 

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Ex Parte letter to the FCC re: Extending RHC filing deadline (Office of Commissioner Carr)
February 9, 2021
 

The SHLB Coalition met with the FCC to advocate for extending the RHC application filing deadline, as well as delaying implementation of the Rates Database.

 

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Ex Parte letter to the FCC re: Extending RHC filing deadline (Wireline Competition Bureau)
February 8, 2021
 

The SHLB Coalition met with the FCC to advocate for extending the RHC application filing deadline, as well as delaying implementation of the Rates Database. The Coalition provided several examples of significant urban rates increases using the Rates Database.

 

 

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Ex Parte letter to the FCC re: Extending RHC filing deadline (Office of Commissioner Rosenworcel)
February 8, 2021
 

The SHLB Coalition met with the FCC to advocate for extending the RHC application filing deadline, as well as delaying implementation of the Rates Database. The Coalition provided several examples of significant urban rates increases using the Rates Database.

 

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Ex Parte letter to the FCC re: Extending RHC filing deadline (OMD)
February 5, 2021
 

The SHLB Coalition met with the FCC to advocate for extending the RHC application filing deadline, as well as delaying implementation of the Rates Database.

 

 

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Ex Parte letter to the FCC re: Extending RHC filing deadline (Office of Commissioner Starks)
February 4, 2021
 

The SHLB Coalition met with the FCC to advocate for extending the RHC application filing deadline, as well as delaying implementation of the Rates Database.

 

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Ex Parte letter to the FCC re: Extending RHC filing deadline (Commissioner Simington)
February 4, 2021
 

The SHLB Coalition met with the FCC to advocate for extending the RHC application filing deadline, as well as delaying implementation of the Rates Database.

 

 

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Letter to FCC requesting extension of RHC filing deadline
January 25, 2021
 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the SHLB Coalition asks the FCC to extend the April 1, 2021 deadline for filing RHC applications. The letter further requests that the Commission waive the rule requiring healthcare providers to use the RHC Telecommunications program rates database for the next two years.

 

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Joint Ex Parte filing re: E-rate reform, broadband mapping, and the RHC program
January 15, 2021
 

SHLB and the Wireless Future Project at New America met with the offices of Commissioner Starks and Commissioner Rosenworcel to discuss the difficulties that RHC applicants would have meeting the April 1, 2021 application filing deadline.

 

 

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Letter to FCC asking that E-rate and Rural Health Care program participants be allowed to purchase additional bandwidth.
August 28, 2020
 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the SHLB Coalition asks the FCC to allow schools and libraries to obtain E-rate support for the immediate bandwidth increases they need to handle the explosion of online learning. SHLB also asks the Commission to permit similar measures for Rural Health Care participants, who need support for the expansion of telehealth services.

 

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Joint Ex Parte filing re: E-rate and RHC gift rules, etc.
August 25, 2020
 

SHLB and the State E-rate Coordinators Alliance re-stated the request that the FCC extend the E-rate and Rural Health Care program gift rule. The filing also asks the Commission to make supplemental funding available for E-rate applicants to augment their existing internet capacity.

 

 

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Joint letter to FCC requesting gift waiver extension for E-rate and RHC programs
August 4, 2020
 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the SHLB Coalition, the Consortium for School Networking, and the State Educational Technology Directors Association request that the FCC extend the special waiver allowing E-rate and Rural Health Care participants to accept gifts.

 

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Joint letter to Congress endorsing the Healthcare Broadband Expansion During COVID-19 Act
April 10, 2020
 

SHLB and 47 other healthcare organizations wrote to Congress endorsing H.R. 6474. The letter asks Congress to include this bill in the next coronavirus relief package.

 

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Letter to Congress endorsing the Healthcare Broadband Expansion During COVID-19 Act
April 10, 2020 
 

SHLB documents the estimated $2 billion additional demand in Rural Health Care funding due to the global coronavirus pandemic. The letter also endorses the bill before Congress.

 

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Request for extension of FY2020 RHC filing window
February 27, 2020
 

SHLB asks the FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau to extend the filing window for FY2020 Rural Health Care applications to the end of June.

 

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Ex parte letter to the FCC regarding the RHC Order
December 3, 2019 
 

SHLB met with the FCC to express concern about the Universal Service Administrative Company's ability to set rates for the Rural Telecom Program, among other things.

 

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Petition for Reconsideration of "Promoting Telehealth in Rural America."
November 12, 2019
 

SHLB petitioned the FCC to reconsider portions of its "Promoting Telehealth in Rural America" Report and Order, adopted in August 2019.

 

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Ex parte letter to the FCC regarding the RHC Order
July 25, 2019 
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Ex parte letter to the FCC requesting postponed adoption of Report and Order
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.

 

 

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Ex parte letter to the FCC and USAC regarding the operation of RHC program
March 15, 2019 
 

SHLB submitted an ex parte filing expressing its deep concern regarding the operation of the RHC program.

 

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Reply comments to FCC on RHC proceeding
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.

 

 

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Comments to the FCC on ongoing issues with RHC program
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.

 

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Ex parte letter to FCC on RHC proceedings
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.

 

 

Download the Ex Parte Letter

 

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SHLB Connected Care comments for FCC
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.

 

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SHLB ex parte on FCC meetings regarding its RHC petition
May 3, 2018 
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SHLB emergency petition for waiver of RHC program funding cap
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.

 

 

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SHLB RHC program reform reply comments for FCC 
March 5, 2018 
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SHLB RHC program reform comments for FCC
February 2, 2018
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SHLB multi-signatory letters to House and Senate on RHC reform
November 1, 2017
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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).

 

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Senate letter calling on FCC to protect broadband funding for rural healthcare clinics
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.

 

Read the Press Release 

 

View SHLB Health Documents 2013-2016 →

 


 

SHLB Rural Health Care Blogs

E-rate and the Homework Gap