The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau has announced it will release an updated list of rural areas that is used to determine eligibility in the Rural Health Care (RHC) universal service support mechanism. RHC support is made available to certain rural public or non-profit health care providers (HCPs) to ensure they receive telecommunications services at rates that are “reasonably comparable” to rates in urban areas. In order to be eligible to receive RHC support, HCPs must be located in rural areas which pursuant to a 2004 definition, are located either entirely outside a Core Based Statistical Area (CBSA), as defined by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) based on data obtained through the most recent decennial census, or within a CBSA that meets certain criteria related to population density. As of 2005, the list of rural areas has been based on 2000 census data. The Bureau has now announced that it will update the list to reflect 2010 decennial census data and the most recent OMB CBSA designations. Additionally, a limited waiver has been granted to those RHC program participants that will become “nonrural” as a result of the update.
For additional information, please contact Tony Veach.