The Telecommunications Program (formerly known as the Primary Program) provides discounts for telecommunications and Internet access services for eligible health care providers.
Applicants currently participating in the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program can continue to receive support for telecommunications services through the Telecommunications Program, with no changes.
Beginning in January 2014, applicants currently receiving support for Internet access can apply for support for those same services through the new Healthcare Connect Fund. For those receiving Internet access support, funding will continue through the end of Funding Year 2013, which ends on June 30, 2014. Once funding for Internet access ends, this component of the RHC Program will only provide telecommunications services support and will simply be known as the Telecommunications Program.
The Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) is the newest component of the Rural Health Care Program. The HCF will provide a 65 percent discount on eligible expenses related to broadband connectivity to both individual rural health care providers (HCPs) and consortia, which can include non-rural HCPs (if the consortium has a majority of rural sites).
For new HCF applicants, the filing window will open late summer 2013, with funding beginning on January 1, 2014. Starting in Funding Year 2014 (July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015), all applicants will be on the same funding year schedule.
The Pilot Program provides funding for up to 85 percent of eligible costs of the construction or implementation of statewide and/or regional broadband networks. There are 50 active projects involving hundreds of health care providers (HCPs).
While no new funding is available, some projects continue to accept new HCP sites. As funding for Pilot Program projects ends, Pilot Program projects should be applying for additional support if needed under the Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF). For the first funding year of the HCF, Funding Year 2013, only current Pilot Program participants are permitted to begin the application process on April 1, 2013, with funding available beginning July 1, 2013, including for new sites.