Are you a skilled nursing facility (SNF) looking to apply for Universal Service Funding for the upcoming year under the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program? SNFs are eligible to apply for the RHC Program and file forms 465 or 461, the first step in the funding process, on January 1, 2017. At TeleQuality Communications, we have over 15 years of experience in providing quality telecommunications and technology solutions to healthcare providers and assisting them through the RHC program. We have learned extensively over the years while navigating the program with our healthcare client and want to share with you a few tips we have under our belt.
While any service provider can technically provide services for your network, there are three key factors that can influence that amount of funding you receive from the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) who administers the USF funding:
- Form Guidance
- Network Design
- Invoicing USAC
Let’s break down each item below.
The Rural Health Care Program requires numerous forms that can be confusing and time consuming if you don’t have the proper guidance to assist you through them. Your service provider is under no obligation to assist you with filling out the funding forms. In fact, most of them won’t have many resources for you and there are certain forms that they absolutely cannot help you with; however, there are a few things that service providers can do to help you through the process.
- Researching and providing you with the best urban rates possible for your service and state (applies only to the RHC Telecommunications Program)
- Guides to completing certain forms and step-by-step assistance
- Proactively keeping up-to-date with your funding form completions and monitoring funding deadlines so you don’t miss out on any funding
Before you choose a service provider for your telecommunications and network services, have a discussion with them about those items. Will they commit to doing the extensive research to acquire the best urban rates for you? Will they be there to remind you of form deadlines and assist you through the process? Will they monitor your forms on USAC’s website ensuring it was all processed correctly and on time?
TeleQuality has dedicated funding specialists to help assist and guide healthcare providers through the funding process.
The second item that can severely affect your funding is network design. How your telecommunications network is set up can change the amount of funding your organization receives. For example, MPLS networks and P2P networks are funded differently under both RHC programs, but more importantly for the Telecommunications Program. How your network is designed matters and many service providers do not take the time to properly evaluate your current network and suggest changes that could lead to more funding for your organization.
One of TeleQuality’s hallmark value-adds is our network design experience. We evaluate every single network we design for healthcare providers to ensure they receives the maximum amount of funding possible through the Rural Health Care Program.
One factor that many healthcare providers don’t know about before going into the funding program is after your funding paperwork is submitted, the responsibility lies solely on the service provider to collect and invoice your funding. That’s right, no matter if you choose to file under the Telecommunications Program or the Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF), once you have submitted your paperwork for funding it is the service provider’s responsibility to invoice USAC on the healthcare provider’s behalf and credit their account with the funds. There are no rules for how often a service provider must invoice USAC; therefore, some service providers choose to delay until the end of the funding year to do so. In this scenario, it would mean your organization wouldn’t receive your funding credit until the end of the funding year. This can be a serious problem for healthcare providers who are facing cash flow issues.
At TeleQuality, we elect to collect on behalf of the HCP every month to ensure the healthcare provider obtains their funding as quickly as possible. Will your service provider do the same?
For more information on the Universal Service Fund, Rural Healthcare Program and skilled nursing facility eligibility, please visit www.usac.org/RHC.
For TeleQuality Communications’ funding packet and information on the programs, visit http://www.telequality.com/funding-programs--information.
If you have any questions or concerns about any of our factors above please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.