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The Rural Health Care Program News Archive gives you access to all announcements related to the Rural Health Care Program as they were made throughout the years. The archives will be updated as new announcements are made.
On December 15, 2004, the FCC released a final order that changed the definition of “Rural” for purposes of the Rural Health Care Support Mechanism.
According to the new FCC rural definition, a Health Care Provider is designated as rural or urban by its US census tract. This is effective for the 2005 Funding Year which starts July 1, 2005. If all census tracts in a county are rural or urban, it is unnecessary to know the tract because the entire county is designated as rural or urban. If this is not the case, determine the census tract by calling the regional census bureau office or visit the FFIEC Web Site. HCPs which have been receiving support, but become ineligible under this new definition, will have grandfathered eligibility for three years, to ease the transition. Below you will find the rural census tract list in zipped (.txt) file format. You will also find a Word and PDF document of the actual FCC order. RHCD will be releasing more information on other items in the Order over the next few weeks and will address these topics on the next monthly conference call on January 13, 2005.
Go to the Rural Census Tract List [Zip File, 254kb]
Go to the FCC order [MS Word, 393kb]
Go to the FCC order [PDF, 360kb]
The United States Senate last night (12/8/04) passed a bill (H.R. 5419) to grant the Universal Service Fund a one year exemption (through December 31, 2005) from the accounting provisions of the Anti-Deficiency Act. Once the bill has been signed into law, USAC will work with the FCC to implement its provisions. As more information becomes available we will keep you posted.
The monthly conference call scheduled for November 11, 2004 has been moved to November 10, 2004 at 2pm due to Veteran's Day observances. The agenda for the call is posted and can be accessed by clicking on this link. We will return to our regular schedule next month.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began treating funding commitment decision letters (FCDLs) issued for the Universal Service Schools and Libraries and Rural Health Care Support Mechanisms as budgetary obligations on September 30, 2004. At that time, the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) began tracking the amount of unobligated Universal Service Fund (USF) monies on hand to support new funding commitments. USAC expects that, going forward, at various times, it may have less unobligated cash than the total dollar value of new commitments ready to be issued. View full article
The RHCD will host another outreach conference call on October 14, 2004 at 2 pm for those who missed the call on October 7, 2004. We will address the same issues discussed on the earlier call, particularly the suspension of funding commitment decision letters. Please follow this link to the agenda and dialing instructions of this conference call.
USAC has been directed by the FCC to move to government accounting standards by October 1, 2004, and this has raised potential budget authority issues that may impact USAC. As a result, RHCD has not issued FCDLs for any Funding Year since August 20, 2004, and will be temporarily suspending further issuance of such letters. USAC is working with the FCC to resolve these issues and, once that happens, RHCD will resume issuing commitment letters. In the meantime, RHCD is continuing to review applications so that, when the matter is resolved, we will be in a position to issue FCDLs. USAC expects the issue to be resolved in the near future.
September 20, 2004 is the final deadline for filing FCC Form 466 for rural health care providers seeking discounts for Funding Year 2003 under the rural health care universal service support mechanism. Form 466 informs the Rural Health Care Division (RHCD) of the Universal Service Administrative Company that the health care provider has entered into an agreement with a telecommunications carrier for a service eligible for universal service support. Those entities that have applied for support for Funding Year 2003 (July 1, 2003 - June 30, 2004) must have their completed FCC Form 466 packet postmarked by September 20, 2004.
The completed FCC Form 466 must include the following:
1) FCC Form 466 (Services Ordered and Certification Form), completed by the health care provider;
2) contract document or tariff designation, provided by either the health care
telecommunications carrier; and
3) if the health care provider is seeking support based on an urban/rural rate comparison, documentation must be included to show the rate for the selected service(s) in the nearest city of 50,000 or more within the state.
The forms and accompanying instructions may be obtained at the RHCD
website. Parties with questions or in need of assistance with the filing
of their applications should contact RHCD’s Customer Service Support Center
The Rural Health Care Support Mechanism calculates telecommunications support using one of two methods: using only a mileage-based calculation, or by comparing the differences between urban and rural rates. Applicants may choose the method based on which is easier, or which provides the most support, according to their own circumstances. If you chose the urban/rural difference as a method of calculation, RHCD has provided urban rates for FY2004 to be used as “safe harbor” rates for individual states; however, applicants may provide their own urban rates.
In the event that your service is not listed, or you believe that you can document a lower urban rate (thereby increasing the supportable urban/rural difference), such as a multi-year discounted urban rate, please follow the guidelines in documenting a comparable urban rate detailed in our section, “About Urban Rates”.
Documentation must be submitted to RHCD if you are providing your own urban rate. Documentation may include tariff pages, contracts, a letter on company letterhead from the urban service provider, rate pricing information printed from the urban service provider’s web site, or similar documentation showing how the urban rate was obtained. Tariff pages should include annotations and carrier identification. Please include only summary pages, if possible.
There are some changes for this funding year that are important to highlight.
Twenty-five per cent (25%) of the monthly charge for Internet access, web addresses and/or web hosting are now supported. To apply for this support please check the appropriate box on Line 30 in your FY 2004 Form 465 and submit the new form 466-A. Please read the instructions for both forms and example (466-A EZ) provided. If you have questions, please contact RHCD customer service line.1-800-229-5476.
Also new for FY 2004 is a change in applicant eligibility. A revised list of eligible entities is provided.
For telecommunication carriers and Internet service providers (collectively know as “Service Providers”) there is an updated PDF entitled, “Procedures for Service Providers.” Please refer to this document for helpful information.
As a result of recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) action, health care participants may be eligible to receive a 25% discount on their monthly Internet service charges. These services are limited to the monthly Internet net access charge, monthly charges for web hosting and web addresses. Eligibility for this discount is open to all rural non profit HCP’s in addition Emergency Departments of for profit rural hospitals are eligible. A complete list of eligible services for both Internet and telecommunications services is provided.
You must be a not-for-profit health care provider located in a rural area in order to be eligible for these reduced rates. Emergency departments of for profit hospitals in rural areas may also receive these benefits. Over the past six years, several thousand rural health care providers have taken advantage of this program and you may be eligible to take advantage of the same benefits plus monthly Internet service support. A complete list of eligible entities is provided. If you have questions, please call RHCD at 1-800-229-5476. Our hours of operation are 8AM to 8PM, Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.
HCP’s who operates part-time in an ineligible entity such as a school or community center are now eligible for pro-rated support based on the percentage of time they operate is such a facility. If you have questions, please call RHCD at 1-800-229-5476. Our hours of operation are 8AM to 8PM, Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. A complete list of eligible entities is provided.
By now you should have received a letter notifying you of program changes which include the support of Internet services. As a result of recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) action, some of your health care customers may be eligible to receive a 25% discount on their monthly Internet service charges. Eligibility for this discount is open to not-for-profit rural health care providers and to Emergency Departments of for profit rural hospitals. More information will be posted as this program gets underway. Please review the application process and if you have questions please call please call RHCD at 1-800-229-5476. Our hours of operation are 8AM to 8PM, Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.
MAD is now measured to largest city in the state rather than nearest large city. For many HCP’s this will increase their MAD. Beginning with Funding Year 2004 (July 1, 2004-June 30, 2005), the FCC has determined that the MAD is the distance from the HCP’s location to the farthest point on the jurisdictional boundary of the largest city in the HCP’s state. Previous to FY 2004, the MAD was calculated from the HCP’s location to the nearest large city of population 50,000 or more in the HCP’s state. The Maximum Allowable Distance and largest city were determined for the HCP by RHCD when Form 465 was posted on the RHCD website, and are shown below Lines 17-18 of the posted Form 465.
This Urban Rate Search will help applicants complete Line 40 on Form 466 for Funding Year 2004. Those who are requesting telecommunications support using an urban/rural rate comparison may refer to this database to obtain an urban rate. If the type of service or large city you require are not listed, please call RHCD's Customer Service Support Center at 1-800-229-5476 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. ET.
FCC NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING RELEASED. [WC Docket No. 02-60; FCC 03-288] FCC seeks comment on modifications to the definition of ''rural area'' for the rural health care support mechanism, whether additional modifications to the rules are appropriate to facilitate the provision of support to mobile rural health clinics for satellite services, and additional outreach efforts and measures to streamline further the application process. DATES: Comments Feb. 23, 2004. Reply comments April 7, 2004. CONTACT: Shannon Lipp, Attorney, (202) 418-7400 or Regina Brown, Attorney, (202) 418-7400