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Federal Communications Commission - Rural Health Care Program

Federal Agency/Bureau
Federal Communications Commission/Wireline Competition Bureau
Program Name
Rural Health Care Program
Authorizing Legislation

47 U.S.C.§ 254(h)(1)(a) - Telecom; 47 U.S.C.§ 254(h)(2)(a) - Healthcare Connect

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. The RHC Program has an annual funding cap, which is adjusted for inflation each year. The cap for funding year 2023 is $682.4 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, seeks to ensure 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.



Type of Funding


Other: Discount on eligible telecommunications services.

Link to application site, NOFO, FOA, or (if different from program website above)
Important Dates (if applicable)

Funding Year 2023: July 1, 2022 – June 2023.

FY2023 Appropriations Amount

The program is part of the FCC's Universal Service Fund and thus is not funded through the appropriations process. The funding year 2023 funding cap is $682,361,586.

Matching Requirement


Complementary Federal Funding Option

Not Applicable

Broadband-related Program Purpose/Eligible Expenditures
If "Other", Program Purpose(s)


Speed/Technical Requirement for Broadband Infrastructure

Not Applicable

If "Other", Eligible Recipient(s)

Eligible health care providers and provider consortia

Criteria for Eligible Recipients

Eligible health care providers include: (1) post-secondary educational institutions offering health care instruction, teaching hospitals, and medical schools; (2) community health centers or health centers providing health care to migrants; (3) local health departments or agencies; (4) community mental health centers; (5) not-for-profit hospitals; (6) rural health clinics; (7) skilled nursing facilities (as defined in section 395i–3(a) of title 42 and (8) consortium of health care providers consisting of one or more entities falling into the first seven categories. In addition, eligible health care providers must be non-profit or public.

Grant Beneficiaries (if different from eligible recipients)

Not Applicable

Reporting Requirements

Not Applicable

Contact Information
Additional Information

April 2023

Funding Guide