SHLB Urges the FCC to Reform and Increase Funding for Rural Health Care Program

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The Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition, a broad-based membership organization that includes health providers and telehealth networks, filed comments with the Federal Communication Commission asking for an increase in funding for the Rural Health Care (RHC) program to improve the quality of health care in rural markets across the United States.

The RHC program is currently facing an unprecedented crisis. Applications for funding exceeded the funding cap for both FY 2016 and FY 2017. This funding shortage has resulted in health providers canceling or downgrading broadband connections and reducing services to the public. The backlog of applications is becoming worse than ever -- the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) has not yet released its decisions for FY 2017 applications. Several telehealth networks put their plans to expand into rural markets on hold due to the uncertainty around future funding. The SHLB Coalition offers four main recommendations to reform the Universal Service Fund program: 1) Increase the cap to meet the current demand; 2) Encourage the formation of consortia in the Healthcare Connect Fund; 3) Establish funding tiers to ensure funds are distributed to the most rural areas; and 4) Improve administrative efficiency, transparency, and protection against waste, fraud, and abuse.


SHLB Urges the FCC to Reform and Increase Funding for Rural Health Care Program