The Federal Communication Commission today released a draft notice of proposed rulemaking and order that would update its Rural Health Care Program to meet the growing demand for broadband telehealth services. Among other changes, the draft order would waive the RHC Program’s $400 million cap on a one-time basis and allow unused funds from previous years to support current applicants. The cap was exceeded in fiscal years 2016 and 2017. In addition, the notice seeks comment on increasing the RHC Program’s $400 million annual cap permanently and creating a prioritization mechanism in the event of demand exceeding the cap. “It is time to revisit and reset this cap to provide support for all qualifying applicants and ensure that all Americans can benefit from a broadband-connected health care system, regardless of where they live,” wrote AHA Senior Vice President of Public Policy Analysis and Development Ashley Thompson in a May letter to FCC. FCC will consider the proposed rulemaking and order at its Dec. 14 public meeting.

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