Funding guide

FCC - Rural Health Care Program

Broadband Funding Guide

Federal Communications Commission

Federal Agency

Federal Communications Commission

Agency Overview

The Federal Communications Commission regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. An independent U.S. government agency overseen by Congress, the commission is the United States' primary authority for communications law, regulation and technological innovation.

Program Name

Rural Health Care Program

Program Overview

The Rural Health Care (RHC) Program provides funding to eligible public or non-profit health care providers for broadband and telecommunications services necessary for the provision of health care. RHC Program support is provided on a funding year basis. Funding years run from July 1 through June 30 of the subsequent year. Beginning in funding year (FY) 2017, funding for the RHC Program is capped at $571 million and annually adjusted for inflation beginning in FY2018. Prior to FY2017, the RHC Program cap was $400 million.

The RHC Program provides funding through two programs: the Telecommunications (Telecom) Program and the Healthcare Connect Fund Program. The Telecom Program, established in 1997, ensures that rural health care providers pay no more than their urban counterparts for eligible telecommunications services. Specifically, an applicant’s program support is based on the difference between rural rates charged for telecommunications services in the rural area where the health care provider is located, and the urban rates charged for similar telecommunications services in the State. The rural health care provider pays only the urban rate for the telecommunications service, and the USF pays the difference between the urban rate and rural rate for the service to the service provider. The Healthcare Connect Fund Program, established in 2012, provides a flat 65% discount on an array of communications services to both individual rural health care providers and consortia, which can include non-rural health care providers (if the consortium has a majority of rural sites). These services include Internet access, dark fiber leases, business data, traditional DSL, and private carriage services, among others, along with funding for construction of health care provider-owned communications facilities. With the Healthcare Connect Fund Program, the Commission intended to promote the use of broadband services, recognizing the increasing need for rural health care providers to have access to specialists who are often located in urban areas, as well as the advent of certain communications-based trends in healthcare delivery, such as the move towards electronic health records.

Program Purpose
  • Broadband Infrastructure (e.g. construction)
  • Broadband Adoption
Eligible Recipients
  • Higher Education Institutions
  • Hospitals
  • Non-Profit Organizations

Agency Contact

Telecommunications Access Policy Division
FCC Wireline Competition Bureau
(202) 418-7400

Funding Type


FY2018 Funding Amount

Approx. $581,278,000 [funding cap]