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Indian Health Service The Federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives

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Rural Health Care Program

The Rural Health Care Program (RHC) is a division of the Universal Service Fund (USF) and administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). The Federal Communications Commission designated the program, authorized by Congress, to provide fiscal support and reduced rates to rural health care providers (HCPs) for telecommunications services and Internet access charges related to the use of telemedicine and telehealth. Access and improvements to data communication services help provide modern health care services for patients at rural clinics and hospitals. Indian Health Service (IHS) and Tribal health care providers (eligible clinics, hospitals, and others) can take advantage of the program to offset the high cost of their rural telecommunication services.

The RHC program is commonly referred to as "USAC".

What Does it Mean for IHS Health Care Providers?

The Rural Health Care Program reimburses the rural clinic or hospital the difference of their high-cost rural telecom services and the better rate offered in the nearest urban city.

Support is available for eligible rural telecommunications services and some of the monthly Internet access charges used for the provision of health care at HCPs. The level of support depends on the location and type of services. An HCP can save on services it already has, upgrade current services, or install new services by utilizing some cost savings through this program, which can substantially reduce a site's budgeted telecommunication costs.

In the past ten years, RHC funds that posted as credits to GSA FTS circuits saved IHS over $6 million on Verizon (MCI) billed telecom costs. Additionally, local service provider's eligible circuits (not on FTS or Networx) bring in at least $25 million annual funding for other IHS and Tribal health care providers.

If your rural health care provider is not participating, they could be missing opportunities for thousands of dollars to help defray their telecom costs. This is not a grant program, but part of the distribution of USF fees collected from all telecom customers nationally.

For more detailed information on the Rural Health Care Program visit the USAC website Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov .

If you have any questions about the Rural Health Care Program process for IHS contact:
Renita Curtis, Contractor, DNC
Phone: (505) 235-0369
Email: renita.curtis@ihs.gov

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