So, What is The Healthcare Connect Fund?

 

The Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) provides support for eligible health care providers (HCPs) to access proper broadband connectivity and encourages the formation of state and regional broadband networks. Under the HCF, eligible HCPs can apply as individuals or as part of a consortium. Individual HCPs and consortium applicants will be able to receive a 65% discount on all eligible services and equipment. Applicants will also be able to receive this discount on HCP-constructed and owned network facilities. The application process will begin in late summer of 2013 and funding will begin January 1, 2014.

Through access to telemedicine and support of electronic health records, networks of HCPs can save costs and expand access to health care. The HCF capitalizes on the benefits of these networks by encouraging the formation of state and regional health care consortia while continuing to allow for individual applicants.

The filing window will open late summer 2013 (for funding starting on January 1, 2014). Take the first step by learning more about the HCF. You could begin by reading the HCF rules and the HCF Order  (FCC 12-150).

If you need more of a breakdown, try the following:

  • Get familiar with what's changing from the existing Rural Health Care Program and what options are available to you
  • If you're currently a participant in the Rural Health Care Program, review the HCF Timeline  handout for a high level look at how the timeline for the new program compares to the existing program.

Once you've determined that the HCF is the right fit for you:

  • Determine whether you would apply as an individual HCP or as a member of a consortium
  • Review the eligibility criteria and eligible services
  • Review the new HCF forms and instructions to become familiar with the application process.

Participation Basics Eligible individual applicants must be rural public or nonprofit HCPs. Consortia may be comprised of both rural and non-rural HCPs. All consortia must consist of more than 50 percent rural participation within three years of receipt of the first funding commitment obtained through the HCF. Connections to, and equipment located at, eligible off-site data centers and administrative offices are eligible for support in the HCF.

Helpful Resources The RHC Program is working to develop training tools and resources to ensure that applicants are well-informed of what they need to do and when to do it. All new resources and training materials will be posted to the Trainings & Outreach page of the HCF section of our website. Participants will be notified about new resources through the RHC Circuit or our new bi-weekly email publication, the HCF Bulletin.

The HCF Bulletin is a bi-weekly email publication that provides ongoing information and updates about the new HCF, including resources for navigating new processes, information about conference calls and trainings, and much more. To sign up for these bi-weekly email updates, visit the Subscription Center and select "RHC Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Bulletin." Detailed information about the HCF can also be found in the HCF Order  (FCC 12-150) and on the FCC website.

Information Courtesy:  The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) is an independent, not-for-profit corporation designated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as the administrator of the universal service fund (USF).