|Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
|News media information 202 / 418-0500
This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION BEGINS PROCEEDING TO IMPROVE RURAL HEALTH CARE SUPPORT PROGRAM
Washington, D.C. - Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Notice) seeking comment on how to improve
the rural health care universal service mechanism, which helps rural health care providers
obtain access to modern telecommunications and information services for medical and
health maintenance purposes. The five-year old program provides discounted
telecommunications services to rural health care providers at rates equal to the rates
charged for similar services in urban areas.|
The rural health care support program, with an annual cap for discounts at $400 million, has provided discounts to rural health care providers in 40 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. For example, with such support, rural health care providers may send X- rays and other information to doctors in other areas in real time.
Today's action to review the rural health care support program is part of continuing efforts to streamline and improve the operation of the Commission's universal service rules in light of technological and marketplace changes. Moreover, in the aftermath of recent national events, national security and public health officials have emphasized the importance of a more fully integrated network of health care providers across our nation. With today's action, the Commission is seeking to explore ways to increase the number of health care providers that could benefit from the program's discounts, without modifying the existing funding cap.
With the Notice adopted today, the Commission seeks to improve the overall operation of the program and seeks comment on several general issues, including:
Action by the Commission April 18, 2002, by Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 02- 122). Chairman Powell and Commissioners, Abernathy, Copps, and Martin.
Wireline Competition Bureau Staff Contact: Mark Seifert at 202-418-7400.
on the Commission's web site www.fcc.gov.