The Rural Health Care Program of the Universal Service Fund makes discounts available to eligible health care providers for telecommunication and Internet services. The program is intended to ensure that rural health care providers pay no more for telecommunications in the provision of health care services than their urban counterparts. Support is available for T1’s, Fiber, OC3’s, DS3’s, ISDN, PRI and MPLS circuits as well as traditional phone lines (POTs).
The Telecommunications Program provides discounts to eligible rural healthcare providers on their telecommunications costs so that they enjoy the same rates as urban hospitals. The program’s discount equals the difference between the rate paid by the rural healthcare provider and the rate for the same service in a major city in that state.
The Healthcare Connect Fund started in 2014, the program provides a 65 percent discount on eligible expenses related to broadband connectivity to eligible health care providers. A significant difference in this program is that non-rural providers may receive discounts if they are part of a consortium of mainly rural providers. As a result, more locations are eligible for funding. Additionally, the equipment and software required to make the connections functional are eligible for support.