The Rural Health Care Program of the Universal Service Fund (USF), which is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), is a support program authorized by Congress and designed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to provide reduced rates to rural health care providers (HCPs) for telecommunications services and Internet access charges related to the use of telemedicine & tele-health.
The Rural Health Care Program, which includes the new Healthcare Connect Fund, provides funding to eligible health care providers (HCPs) for telecommunications and broadband services necessary for the provision of health care. The goal of the program is to improve the quality of health care available to patients in rural communities by ensuring that eligible HCPs have access to telecommunications and broadband services. Funding for the Rural Health Care Program is capped at $400 million annually.
The Rural Health Care Program is currently made up of four programs: the Healthcare Connect Fund, the Telecommunications Program, the Internet Access Program, and the Rural Health Care Pilot Program.
The FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB) oversees the Healthcare Connect Fund, the Rural Health Care Telecommunications and Internet Access Programs, and the Rural Health Care Pilot Program. The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), under WCB oversight, administers the day-to-day operations of these programs.
- FCC's Healthcare Connect Fund Presentation - January 10, 2013
- USAC Major FCC Orders and Rulemaking Notices Regarding the Rural Health Care Pilot Program - January 10, 2013
- FCC Application Process for Healthcare Connect Fund to Create and Expand Telemedicine Networks and Increase Access to Medical Specialists - January 2013
- FCC Press Release: FCC Creates Healthcare Connect Fund to Expand Access to Robust Broadband Healthcare Networks, Improve Care and Lower Costs for Patients Nationwide - December 12, 2012
- FCC Rural Health Care Support Mechanism - December 21, 2012
- AHA Comment Letter on Issues in the Rural Health Care Reform Proceeding WC Docket No. 02-60 - August 22, 2012
- FCC Wireline Competition Bureau Evaluation of Rural Health Care Pilot Program - August 13, 2012