FCC Publishes Request for Comment on Proposed Changes to the Universal Service Rural Health Program

  In January, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted an order and further notice of proposed rulemaking (FNPRM) (FCC 23-6) to amend Universal Service Rural Health Care (RHC) Program rules.  The order restored the method of calculating rural and urban rates as it existed before the adoption of the 2019 Rule and Order that created a rates database.  It also simplified invoicing procedures and altered priority rules if the program cannot fully fund all applications submitted.  The FNPRM sought comment on new application data collection plans to verify that the requested support is consistent with prevailing charges for similar telecommunications services in the area.  It also proposed capping support for satellite service at the level of terrestrial service, proposes changes to expedite new healthcare provider review, and proposed other changes to streamline the application process.  The order and FNPRM were published in the Federal Register on March 23, 2023, starting a 30-day public comment period (ending April 24, 2023) and a subsequent 30-day reply comment period (ending May 22, 2023) for people to comment on other filer’s comments.  Interested parties may comment in the Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) under WC Docket No. 17-310 at: https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filings/standard