The total support available to eligible health care providers in 2020 will top $802M.
The Federal Communications Commission's Wireline Competition Bureau this week ordered that $197.9 million in unused funds from prior years be carried forward for the Rural Health Care Program.
The Rural Health Care Program funding cap for 2020 is $604.76 million. But the carry-forward pushes the total funds available to eligible providers to $802.74 million in 2020, the most in the program's history, the FCC said in a media release.
RHCP provides nonprofit rural providers with money to expand their telemedicine and high-speed broadband capacities. In recent years, demand for the funds has outstripped the funding cap, and the FCC moved two years ago to increase the funding cap, carryover funding, and adjust for inflation.
"In 2018, the FCC took swift action to ensure that the Rural Health Care Program better reflected the needs of and advances in connected care," FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said.
"Looking to the future, we gave providers more certainty by adjusting the cap annually for inflation and allowing unused funds from previous years to be carried forward," Pai said.
"And now, more than ever, our foresight is fortuitous, as telehealth is proving to be critical in our fight against COVID-19," Pai said, adding that the additional funding "speaks to the FCC's commitment to ensuring that rural healthcare providers can continue to serve their communities during this difficult time and well into the future."
“Now, more than ever, our foresight is fortuitous, as telehealth is proving to be critical in our fight against COVID-19.”
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai
John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.
RHCP grants money to nonprofit rural providers to expand telemedicine and broadband capabilities.
In recent years, demand for the funds has outstripped the funding cap.
The FCC in 2018 increased the funding cap, and approved carryover funding and annual adjustments for inflation.