FCC Proposes Rural Health Broadband Programs, Solicits Comments

FCC logoThe NRHA released an initial draft of its comments to a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed rule relating to programs intended to boost broadband access for rural health providers. The FCC has proposed two separate programs, and is seeking public comments on their implementation. The first, a health broadband infrastructure program, would provide "up to 85 percent of the construction costs of new regional or statewide networks to serve public and non-profit health care providers in areas with unavailable or insufficient broadband. The second, a health broadband services access program, would subsidize 50 percent of the monthly broadband access recurring costs for eligible public or non-profit rural health providers. While we did have some concerns with the proposal, notably the proposed infrastructure program as well as some other components, we believe this represents a significant step in the right direction to bringing critical broadband service to rural providers. Broadband is the foundation of any health technology improvements, and bringing it to rural America represents significant challenges.  A robust electronic health record system, for instance, that complies with the CMS Meaningful Use standards is fully reliant on whether or not providers have access to the broadband necessary to exchange large files. Please download a copy of the NRHA's draft comment letter here We are still soliciting comments on any changes or improvements to our letter, so please feel free to email me with any suggestions.  Additionally, please feel free to use any part of our letter to develop your own comments. Click here for the FCC's press release with more information, and here for the full text of the proposed rule: Final comments are due on Wednesday, September 8th, and can be submitted by following the instructions via the link below: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/ Also, please contact me at [email protected] with any suggestions for changes or improvements before our final letter is submitted.