AHA today urged the Federal Communications Commission to reverse the “large and unexpected” funding cuts to Rural Health Care program participants in fiscal year 2017 and permanently adjust the program’s funding cap to prevent similar cuts in the future. The $400 million annual cap has been unchanged for more than 20 years. Eight months into FY 2017, the program administrator announced funding cuts for individuals and consortia of 15% and 25%, respectively. “These cuts not only affect the ability of these rural health care providers to maintain strong broadband connections but also could force tough decisions affecting funding for essential health care services,” wrote Ashley Thompson, AHA senior vice president for public policy analysis and development. In February, AHA voiced support for an FCC proposal to adjust the funding cap annually for inflation, including a “catch up” increase for FY 2017 to account for inflation since the program began. It also urged the commission to assess future demand for broadband-enabled health care services to set a more accurate cap.

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