The Healthcare Connect Fund encourages growth or formation of statewide or regional broadband health care networks.
The Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) provides a 65 percent flat-rate discount on all eligible expenses.
Eligible Health Care Providers (HCPs)
• Consortia of eligible rural and non-rural public/nonprofit health care providers.
• Individual rural public/nonprofit HCPs.
Off-Site Data Centers and Off-Site Administrative Offices
The HCF provides support to HCPs for connections and network equipment associated with off-site data centers and off-site administrative offices.
• The application process minimizes the administrative burden on participants while still protecting against waste, fraud, and abuse.
• Consortium applicants may file a single application for support.
• Starting July 1, 2013, support will be available for existing Pilot projects.
• Starting January 1, 2014, support will be available for new consortia and individual HCP participants. The eligibility determination and competitive bidding processes may start in late summer 2013.
Applicants may seek a multi-year funding commitment for up to three years and avoid the annual application filing requirement.
HCP Competitive Bidding Exemptions
Certain applicants are exempt from the competitive bidding requirements if the:
• Annual undiscounted cost for services is $10,000 or less,
• HCP site is participating in a Government Master Services Agreements (MSAs),
• HCP site has an MSA approved under Rural Health Care (RHC) Pilot Program or Healthcare Connect Fund,
• HCP site has an RHC-endorsed “evergreen” contract, and
• HCP site has a contract negotiated under the Schools & Libraries Program.
Eligible HCPs may seek support for broadband services, network equipment, and (for consortium applicants) HCP-constructed and -owned network facilities. Only consortium applicants are eligible for upfront payments.
Eligible vendors include any provider of equipment, facilities, or services that are eligible for support.
Limitations on Non-Rural HCP Participation
Non-rural HCPs are eligible for support only as a member of a consortium made up of more than 50 percent rural HCP sites. Support for non-rural hospitals with more than 400 beds is capped at $30,000 annually for recurring charges, and $70,000 over a five-year period for non-recurring charges.
Skilled Nursing Facility Pilot Program
• Purpose: The pilot will test how to support broadband connections for skilled nursing facilities.
• Timing: The FCC will solicit input regarding design of the pilot program in 2013. The pilot will begin in 2014.
• Size: Funding for the pilot is limited to $50 million in total support for all projects combined, spread over three years.
Information provided here is current from the Universal Service Administrative Company: http://www.usac.org/