New Filing Window Schedule for the FCC's Rural Health Care Program
The Wireline Competition Bureau (“Bureau”) released a Public Notice providing filing window period schedules for funding requests under the Telecommunications Program and the FCC’s Rural Health Care (RHC) Program. The Bureau reminds the public of the Commission’s existing rules for situations when requested RHC Program funding begins to near, or exceeds, the Program’s $400 million cap.
The RHC Program funding year begins on July 1 of each year. Prior to funding, USAC implements an initial funding request filing window period that treats all HCPs filing as if their applications were simultaneously received. After the filing window period closes, USAC accepts funding requests on a rolling basis until the end of the funding year, and makes funding commitments on a “first-come, first-served” basis. Due to program growth and expected demand, the Bureau directs USAC to create additional filing window periods to provide greater opportunities within the $400 million cap.
The Bureau provides the following schedules for the 2016 and 2017 filing window periods:
In establishing new filing windows, new eligible entities (skilled nursing facilities or “SNFs”) will be included in RHC program forms to be available January 1, 2017. Additional filing window periods give more rural providers access to funds, and blocks where no requests are accepted will help all parties in the process adjust to the reorganized filing periods. If the total demand in a filing window exceeds the remaining funding available for the funding year, USAC will engage in a three-step pro-rata process to divide the total amount requested and commit reduced dollar amounts to each applicant.
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