The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government yesterday held a hearing on the Federal Communications Commission’s budget request for fiscal year 2019. During the hearing, Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS) questioned FCC Chairman Ajit Pai about FY 2017 cuts to the Rural Health Care Program, which provides funding to help hospitals and others expand access to care in rural areas through telehealth and broadband services. “Why is the USAC moving ahead with these clawbacks ahead of the rulemaking process that would raise the caps for 2017?” Yoder asked. Pai said the program administrator “had to make those determinations under the existing rules.” He said FCC tried to mitigate the impact by making unused funds from prior years available and issuing the proposed rule. “Our staff is evaluating the comments we’ve received and we hope to make a judgment at some point in the near future,” Pai said. AHA this week urged the agency to reverse the FY 2017 cuts and permanently adjust the program’s funding cap to prevent similar cuts in the future.

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