FCC Increases Funding for Rural Health Care Program to $571 Million Annually

The Rural Health Care Program provides funds to support the delivery of telehealth services

June 26, 2018

Earlier this month, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued an order unanimously approving an immediate $171 million increase for the federal Rural Health Care Program. The Rural Health Care Program provides reduced rates to rural health care providers for telecommunications and broadband services to enable and expand use of telehealth.

“This money will help health care providers get the connectivity they need to better serve patients throughout rural America,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

Prior to the FCC’s order, the Rural Health Care Program had been capped at $400 million annually since 1997 and was not indexed for inflation. The decision to increase the annual cap by $171 million brings the new annual cap to $571 million, which represents what the funding level would have been had the original $400 million cap been adjusted for inflation since 1997.

In addition, under the FCC’s order, the new $571 million cap will be adjusted annually for inflation, and unused funds may be carried forward to future years. For questions regarding the Rural Health Care Program or telehealth generally, contact Andrew Brenton, WHA assistant general counsel, at abrenton@wha.org or 608-274-1820.

This story originally appeared in the June 26, 2018 edition of WHA Newsletter