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Federal Communications Commission
1919 - M Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
News media information 202 / 418-0500
Fax-On-Demand 202 / 418-2830
Internet: http://www.fcc.gov

DA Number: 97-2039
Released: September 19, 1997


CC Docket 96-45

In the Report and Order on Universal Service released May 8, 1997, the Commission established rules that will permit eligible public and non-profit rural health care providers to receive universal service support for "services necessary for the provision of health care."(1) These rules implement section 254(h) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (the Act), also known as the Snowe-Rockefeller-Exon-Kerrey Amendment. That provision requires that public and non-profit rural health care providers have access to telecommunications services necessary for the provision of health care services at rates comparable to those paid for similar services in urban areas.(2) In addition, section 254(h)(2) of the Act states that health care providers should have access to advanced telecommunications services.(3) In its Report and Order, the Commission established rules to provide universal service support to public and non-profit rural health care providers in accordance with section 254(h).

Under the Commission's rules, an eligible health care provider that makes a request for universal service support must certify under oath to the following information: that the requester is a public or non-profit entity that falls within one of seven categories of health care providers set forth in the Act; that the requester is physically located in a rural area, or if a non-rural health care provider is requesting support for Internet access, that the requester cannot obtain toll-free access to an Internet service provider; that the services requested will be used solely for purposes reasonably related to the provision of health care services; that the services will not be sold, resold, or transferred in consideration for money or any other thing of value; that the full details of any consortium arrangement, if the requester seeks to purchase supported services with other entities or individuals have been provided, including the identities of all co-purchasers and the portion of services being purchased by the health care provider; and that the requester is selecting the most cost-effective method(s) of providing the requested services.

Eligible health care providers that request universal service support will be required to complete an application form. The Commission is currently developing the application form. The Common Carrier Bureau will hold a public workshop in order to seek input on the form and content of the application, as well as to provide guidance on how to complete it and to answer questions from the public. For purposes of discussion, we will provide a draft application; we emphasize that this draft should not to be used to apply for universal service funding. The workshop will be held on Tuesday, September 30, 1997 from 9:00 a.m.-12:00 noon in the Commission Meeting Room, 1919 M Street, N.W., Room 856, Washington, D.C. 20554. Interested parties may attend the workshop. The workshop also will be recorded on video, and copies of the videotape will be available in the Commission's Reference Room, 1919 M Street, N.W., Room 239, Washington, D.C. 20554.

For further information about this workshop, contact Astrid Carlson at (202) 418-7369.

1. Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service, CC Docket No. 96-45, Report and Order, 62 F.R. 32862 (rel. May 8, 1997) at para. 616-619.

2. 47 U.S.C. § 254(h)(1)(A).

3. 47 U.S.C. § 254(h)(2)(A).