RHC Program Updates

USAC Webinars – Funding Request Best Practices for FY2021

HCF Program Funding Request (FCC Form 462) Best Practices for FY2021
When: Tuesday, December 8th at 2:00 p.m. EST
Click here to watch the recorded webinar.

Telecom Program Funding Request (FCC Form 466) Best Practices for FY2021
When: Thursday, December 10th at 2:00 p.m. EST
Click here to watch the recorded webinar. 

FCC Form 460 and Creating a Consortia

With major changes in the RHC Telecom Program’s rural and urban rates, the HCF program is a great choice for many applicants this upcoming funding year (2021).  To maximize funding under the HCF program, HCPs are encouraged to create consortia.

A consortium is a group of two or more health care providers (HCPs), or health care provider locations, that choose to request support through a single application.  A consortium does not require collaboration between multiple independent health care entities.  Both rural and non-rural sites are eligible for funding as part of a consortium as long as a majority (i.e., more than 50%) of the consortium members are rural sites. For example, if a consortium has five sites, at least three must be in rural areas.

USAC has a Consortium webpage with helpful tip sheets, including a Consortia: Getting Started tip sheet that answers questions about members of a consortium, the responsibilities of consortium members, and other helpful tips like membership is not dependent on HCP locations; member sites from different states can be part of a consortium.

In its Consortia: Forming a Consortium tip sheet, USAC details the Preliminary Steps for forming a Consortia, starting with ensuring each participating HCP site has an approved FCC Form 460 on file with USAC.

If you have not already, remember to complete your FCC Form 460 to determine eligibility.  You can submit your FCC Form 460 at any time during the funding year and are encouraged to do this as soon as possible as the process can take time with USAC to complete.

Click here to watch USAC’s RHC Eligibility Forms webinar for information on how to file and FCC Form 460, or review this step-by-step guide to check if your HCP site has previously registered with the RHC Program and has an approved FCC Form 460 on-file.

FCC Extends Waivers for COVID-19 Relief

On December 14, 2020, the FCC released an additional Order extending certain waivers adopted in March 2020 for COVID-19 relief. Due to ongoing disruptions caused by COVID-19 to HCPs and the need for robust connectivity, the FCC extended the gift rule and information request deadline waivers through June 20, 2021.

Here are some RHC Program updates and reminders:
  • REMINDER: USAC Announced Important Dates for FY2021 on its website.
    • July 1st, 2020: First day applicants may submit Requests for Services (FCC Forms 461 or 465)
    • January 4th, 2021 – June 1st, 2021: Funding Request Filing Window Period (FCC Forms 462 or 466)
    • October 28th, 2022: Invoicing Deadline (FCC Form 463 and Telecom Invoice)
  • MY PORTAL: Now is a great time to review your My Portal Account Holders.  USAC recommends at least one secondary account holder per HCP.
    • USAC has created guides for Primary Account Holders with instructions for additional account holders in My Portal.
    • The process is not the same for both programs.
      • Click here for the Telecom Program Account Holder Guide.
      • Click here for the HCF Program Account Holder Guide
    • HCF Program
      • Request for Services (FCC Form 461) Best Practices, click here to view the recording. 
      • Funding Request (FCC Form 462) Best Practices, click here to view the recording.  
    • Telecom Program
      • Request for Services (FCC Form 465) Best Practices webinar, click here to view recording. 
      • Funding Request (FCC Form 466) Best Practices webinar, click here to view the recording. 
USAC Tools for FY2021:
  • The USAC Telecom Program Rates Database is now available – As required by the 2019 FCC Report and Order, beginning in FY2021, USAC will determine the urban and rural rates for each eligible service in each state and include the rates in a database publicly available on its website. HCP’s submitting funding requests must use the urban and rural rates listed in USAC’s database.
    • USAC published a helpful “How to Use the Rates Database” handout.
  • USAC has released its Rurality Tier Search Tool – This tool can be used by HCP’s to search by HCP site location the applicable rurality tier for its HCP site(s).
    • The rurality tier is used to calculate the “rural rate” for eligible telecommunications services under the Telecom Program and, in the event eligible funding requests exceed the amount of available funding for a particular funding year, is a factor in determining the prioritization of funding.
    • USAC published a helpful “How to Use the Rurality Tier Search Tool” handout.

The ENA Healthcare team is actively reviewing both the telecom rates database and the rurality search tool and will work proactively with ENA customers using the Telecom Program to discuss possible impacts on 2021 funding.