The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has again extended a waiver of its previously issued rules relating to the establishment of urban and rural rates for health care and telecommunication service providers seeking support funding under its Telecommunications Program of the Rural Health Care Program (“Telecom Program”).
The Telecom Program subsidizes the difference between the rates in the health care provider’s rural area and rates for comparable services available in urban areas within the provider’s state. Several years ago, the FCC adopted rules providing for the creation of a database of urban and rural rates within each state that would be used to calculate median rural and urban rates for functionally similar services (“Rate Database”).
The Rate Database was to be used to determine the level of support funding for a particular provider. After publishing the Rate Database in July 2020, the FCC became aware of anomalies that led it to issue a waiver delaying application of the use of the Rate Database for funding years 2021 and 2022. The recently issued notice extends the waiver for funding year 2023. Previously approved rates and the methods and processes used for calculating rural rates that applied for funding years 2021 and 2022 will continue to apply for 2023. More information as well as the FCC notice extending the waiver is available here.