On March 18, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued Order FCC DA 20-290, waiving the RHC Program’s gift rules to provide assistance to rural health care providers (HCPs) affected by COVID-19. In the Order, the FCC acknowledges the increased demand on rural HCPs will require increased connectivity and broadband services. This waiver allows service providers to offer eligible HCPs improved capacity, such as broadband connections or equipment for telehealth, to assist during the COVID-19 outbreak without running afoul of FCC rules. These gifts could include, but are not limited to, free upgrades, equipment, and other services for RHC Program participants.
In addition, the FCC waives the requirement that HCPs pay the unsupported portion of their service costs in the Healthcare Connect Fund Program and the requirement that HCPs pay the urban rate in the Telecom Program. This waiver is in effect until September 30, 2020. Read FCC Order 20-290.