FCC's Performance Management Weaknesses Could Jeopardize Proposed Reforms of the Rural Health Care Program12/17/2010
Status: In progress
The Federal Communications Commission should replace the existing Internet Access Fund with a Health Care Broadband Access Fund.
The Health Care Broadband Access Fund should support bundles of services, including bundled telecommunications, broadband and broadband Internet access services for eligible health care providers.
Health care providers eligible to participate in the new program should include both rural and urban health care providers, based on need.
The FCC should develop new discount levels based on criteria that address such factors as:
- Price discrepancies for similar broadband services between health care providers.
- Ability to pay for broadband services (i.e., affordability).
- Lack of broadband access, or affordable broadband, in the highest HPSAs of the country.
- Public or safety net institution status.
To allow health care providers to afford higher bandwidth broadband services, the subsidy support amount under the Health Care Broadband Access Fund should be greater than the current 25% subsidy support under the Internet Access Fund.
Support should better match the costs of services for disadvantaged health care providers.
To better encourage participation, the FCC should also simplify the application process and provide clarity on the level of support that providers can reasonably expect, while protecting against potential waste, fraud and abuse.
After approximately three years of data collection for the new Health Care Broadband Access Fund, the FCC should examine, based on the success of that program, whether the Telecommunications Fund program needs to be adjusted.