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Broadband's Impact

Rural Healthcare Providers Could Be Surprised by FCC’s Recent Changes to Rural Healthcare Program

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Photo courtesy the Georgia Rural Health Association

The Federal Communications Commission’s rural telehealth order of August 2019 was criticized by the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition in a Wednesday webinar.

The FCC’s rural health program has two arms: The healthcare connect fund and the telecommunications program.

Jeff Mitchell, attorney at Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, laid out the healthcare connect fund side of things. Mitchel was concerned that a hospital must serve at least 51 percent of rural residents in order to be eligible for funding. Mitchel expressed shock that a consortia still servicing a substantial rural population might not meet the new threshold and hence lack vital funds.

Mitchell also worried that if the $571 million cap is met this year, which he predicts will happen, then non-rural consortia will bear 100 percent of the cuts. The SHLB coalition has petitioned the FCC to change this.

Other petitions on the FCC’s order include those contesting the definition of 20 people or less per square mile as “critically underserved,” as well as those by Ohio and North Carolina seeking to raise the funding cap.

At this time, the SHLB considers the likelihood of these petitions inspiring the FCC to action as either low or very low.

On the side of the telecommunications program, Gina Spade, attorney at Broadband Legal Strategies, LLC, focused on gifts and the “similar services clause” in the order.

Spade advised webinar participants to check with their employees to ensure that they do not offer sports tickets or loans to their healthcare provider clients. Under the new law, nothing exceeding the value of a cup of coffee and snacks can be offered to clients.

Spade also criticized the ambiguities of the FCC’s new definition of ‘similar services’ to determine fair rates for urban and rural clients, as there are many more factors at play than the FCC’s narrow fixation on broadband speed. She also took issue with the FCC for empowering the Universal Service Administrator Company to determine urban and rural rates.

Illustration from screenshot in SHLB webinar.

 

Broadband's Impact

Fiber Broadband Association Kicks Off Fiber Connect 2021

The FBA doled out numerous awards during its first general session of the event.

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FBA's Gary Bolton speaking on stage during Fiber Connect 2021

The Federal Communications Commission’s rural telehealth order of August 2019 was criticized by the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition in a Wednesday webinar.

The FCC’s rural health program has two arms: The healthcare connect fund and the telecommunications program.

Jeff Mitchell, attorney at Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, laid out the healthcare connect fund side of things. Mitchel was concerned that a hospital must serve at least 51 percent of rural residents in order to be eligible for funding. Mitchel expressed shock that a consortia still servicing a substantial rural population might not meet the new threshold and hence lack vital funds.

Mitchell also worried that if the $571 million cap is met this year, which he predicts will happen, then non-rural consortia will bear 100 percent of the cuts. The SHLB coalition has petitioned the FCC to change this.

Other petitions on the FCC’s order include those contesting the definition of 20 people or less per square mile as “critically underserved,” as well as those by Ohio and North Carolina seeking to raise the funding cap.

At this time, the SHLB considers the likelihood of these petitions inspiring the FCC to action as either low or very low.

On the side of the telecommunications program, Gina Spade, attorney at Broadband Legal Strategies, LLC, focused on gifts and the “similar services clause” in the order.

Spade advised webinar participants to check with their employees to ensure that they do not offer sports tickets or loans to their healthcare provider clients. Under the new law, nothing exceeding the value of a cup of coffee and snacks can be offered to clients.

Spade also criticized the ambiguities of the FCC’s new definition of ‘similar services’ to determine fair rates for urban and rural clients, as there are many more factors at play than the FCC’s narrow fixation on broadband speed. She also took issue with the FCC for empowering the Universal Service Administrator Company to determine urban and rural rates.

Illustration from screenshot in SHLB webinar.

 

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Expert Opinion

Craig Settles: Libraries, Barbershops and Salons Tackle TeleHealthcare Gap

Craig Settles describes the important role that community institutions have played in promoting connectivity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Photo of Urban Kutz Barbershops owner Waverly Willis getting his blood pressure checked used with permission

The Federal Communications Commission’s rural telehealth order of August 2019 was criticized by the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition in a Wednesday webinar.

The FCC’s rural health program has two arms: The healthcare connect fund and the telecommunications program.

Jeff Mitchell, attorney at Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, laid out the healthcare connect fund side of things. Mitchel was concerned that a hospital must serve at least 51 percent of rural residents in order to be eligible for funding. Mitchel expressed shock that a consortia still servicing a substantial rural population might not meet the new threshold and hence lack vital funds.

Mitchell also worried that if the $571 million cap is met this year, which he predicts will happen, then non-rural consortia will bear 100 percent of the cuts. The SHLB coalition has petitioned the FCC to change this.

Other petitions on the FCC’s order include those contesting the definition of 20 people or less per square mile as “critically underserved,” as well as those by Ohio and North Carolina seeking to raise the funding cap.

At this time, the SHLB considers the likelihood of these petitions inspiring the FCC to action as either low or very low.

On the side of the telecommunications program, Gina Spade, attorney at Broadband Legal Strategies, LLC, focused on gifts and the “similar services clause” in the order.

Spade advised webinar participants to check with their employees to ensure that they do not offer sports tickets or loans to their healthcare provider clients. Under the new law, nothing exceeding the value of a cup of coffee and snacks can be offered to clients.

Spade also criticized the ambiguities of the FCC’s new definition of ‘similar services’ to determine fair rates for urban and rural clients, as there are many more factors at play than the FCC’s narrow fixation on broadband speed. She also took issue with the FCC for empowering the Universal Service Administrator Company to determine urban and rural rates.

Illustration from screenshot in SHLB webinar.

 

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Education

Broadband Breakfast CEO Drew Clark and BroadbandNow’s John Busby Speak on Libraries and Broadband

Friday’s Gigabit Libraries Network conversation will feature Drew Clark of Broadband Breakfast and John Busby of BroadbandNow.

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The Federal Communications Commission’s rural telehealth order of August 2019 was criticized by the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition in a Wednesday webinar.

The FCC’s rural health program has two arms: The healthcare connect fund and the telecommunications program.

Jeff Mitchell, attorney at Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, laid out the healthcare connect fund side of things. Mitchel was concerned that a hospital must serve at least 51 percent of rural residents in order to be eligible for funding. Mitchel expressed shock that a consortia still servicing a substantial rural population might not meet the new threshold and hence lack vital funds.

Mitchell also worried that if the $571 million cap is met this year, which he predicts will happen, then non-rural consortia will bear 100 percent of the cuts. The SHLB coalition has petitioned the FCC to change this.

Other petitions on the FCC’s order include those contesting the definition of 20 people or less per square mile as “critically underserved,” as well as those by Ohio and North Carolina seeking to raise the funding cap.

At this time, the SHLB considers the likelihood of these petitions inspiring the FCC to action as either low or very low.

On the side of the telecommunications program, Gina Spade, attorney at Broadband Legal Strategies, LLC, focused on gifts and the “similar services clause” in the order.

Spade advised webinar participants to check with their employees to ensure that they do not offer sports tickets or loans to their healthcare provider clients. Under the new law, nothing exceeding the value of a cup of coffee and snacks can be offered to clients.

Spade also criticized the ambiguities of the FCC’s new definition of ‘similar services’ to determine fair rates for urban and rural clients, as there are many more factors at play than the FCC’s narrow fixation on broadband speed. She also took issue with the FCC for empowering the Universal Service Administrator Company to determine urban and rural rates.

Illustration from screenshot in SHLB webinar.

 

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