Skilled Nursing Facilities Now Eligible for Rural Health Care Program Support

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) has adopted a Memorandum Opinion and Order implementing the Rural Healthcare Connectivity Act of 2016, which amends the Communications Act of 1934 to include skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) in the list of health care providers (HCPs) eligible to receive Rural Health Care (RHC) Program support.  SNFs were originally not included as an eligible entity type when Congress limited the types of HCPs eligible for RHC Program support in 1996.  However, in June 2016, former President Barack Obama signed legislation that added SNFs to the list of HCPs eligible to receive RHC Program support.  The FCC interprets this law as directing the Commission to include SNFs in all programs for which HCPs are otherwise eligible and therefore has amended its definition of HCP under the RHC Program to mirror the current statutory definition.  The Commission has deemed it unnecessary to initiate a notice and comment rule making proceeding in this matter because the rule change flows from the direction provided in the Rural Healthcare Connectivity Act of 2016.  The rule change will become effective upon publication in the Federal Register.

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