The FCC has okayed a plan to bolster its funding for its rural health care program in response to the coronavirus. The order allows the Universal Service Administrative Company to carry forward unused funds from the prior years to fund eligible Rural Health Care Program services for the current year. The change gives the program an additional $42.19 million.
The Rural Health Care Program subsidizes health care providers’ internet connections. USAC is a nonprofit administered by the FCC.
The total Rural Health Care Program demand for funding year 2019 was $719.48 million, which exceeded the $677.29 million previously available. The order permits USAC to carry forward additional unused funds from prior years to cover this funding gap. It also waives the cap on multi-year commitments and upfront payments that would result in unnecessary reductions in support for rural health care providers and their patients absent the action the Commission took Friday.
The change means rural health care providers can continue to obtain critical communications-based technologies to deliver health care services to their communities. “COVID-19 presents serious challenges to healthcare providers, and they need every tool in the toolbox at their disposal, particularly the enhanced connectivity that enables them to provide vital healthcare services to the American public,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.
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