Tribal Healthcare Facility White Swan Denied Rural Health Care Support

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The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) has denied an appeal of a Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) decision by Indian Health Service/Portland Area, White Swan Health Station (White Swan).  In September 2011, White Swan, which is located on Yakama Indian Reservation within Yakima County, Washington, applied for funding under both the Rural Health Care (RHC) Telecommunications Program and the RHC Internet Access Program.  The RHC Telecommunications Program helps ensure that eligible rural health care providers pay no more than their urban counterparts for telecommunications, while the RHC Internet Access Program provides a 25 percent discount off the cost of monthly Internet access for eligible rural health care providers.  USAC denied support for White Swan because it concluded that, under the FCC’s rules, White Swan is located in a non-rural area, making it ineligible to receive universal service support under both RHC programs.  In its appeal of USAC’s decision, White Swan argued that it even though it is in a non-rural area, it should be eligible for support because its location “possesses many characteristics associated with rural areas.”  In response, the Bureau acknowledged that the FCC’s definition of “non-rural” encompasses a wide range of places and, as such, it is not always obvious which locations are “rural” and “non-rural.  Nevertheless, the Bureau denied White Swan’s appeal.

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