Rural Health Care

Rurality Change

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a Rural Areas List Order (DA 14-1042) in August, 2014 announcing an update to the Rural Areas List. This update reflected the latest decennial census and most recent nationwide Core Based Statistical Area (CBSA) designations, as defined by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). This Order did not change the RHC Program definition of a "rural area," but some program participants that were previously determined to be rural are now considered non-rural as a result of the Rural Areas List update.

For further instructions on how to determine rurality, view this video:

How and When the Update Affects HCPs

Individual health care providers (HCPs) or consortium members for any of the RHC programs may be affected by the update to the Rural Areas List update as early as July 1, 2016.

HCPs should review the Eligible Rural Areas Search tool to determine their rurality status. This tool was updated in 2014 to include the updated Rural Areas List information following the release of the Order.

  • If an HCP is identified as rural in the search tool, that HCP is not affected by the Rural Areas List update.
  • If an HCP that was rural prior to the release of the Order is now identified as non-rural in the search tool, that HCP should refer to the table below to learn how the Rural Areas List update affects their funding eligibility for future funding years.

Eligibility for HCPs Changing From Rural to Non-Rural

For HCPs whose status has changed from rural to non-rural as a result of the 2014 Rural Areas List update, refer to the table below to determine how eligibility for funding will change and when the change will take effect.

 

HCP Type

Eligibility Information

Non-Rural Starting:

Telecom Program

All HCPs

Eligible to receive funding as rural through end of FY2015

July 1, 2016

HCF Program: Individual HCPs

HCPs with single-year funding commitments

Eligible to receive funding as rural through end of FY2015

July 1, 2016

HCPs with multi-year funding commitments – Funding request submitted BEFORE August 18, 2014

Eligible to receive funding as rural through end of funding commitment

See FCL

HCPs with multi-year funding commitments – Funding request submitted AFTER August 18, 2014

Eligible to receive funding as rural through end of FY2015

July 1, 2016

HCF Program: Consortium Member HCPs

HCPs with single-year funding commitments

Eligible to receive funding as rural through end of FY2015

July 1, 2016

HCPs with multi-year funding commitments – Funding request submitted BEFORE August 18, 2014

Eligible to receive funding as rural through end of funding commitment

See FCL

HCPs with multi-year funding commitments – Funding request submitted AFTER August 18, 2014

Eligible to receive funding as rural through end of FY2015

July 1, 2016

TIP: The funding end date of each FRN for the HCP can be found on your Funding Commitment Letter. Email RHC-Assist@usac.org with subject line "Rurality Change" for help locating it.

For Consortium Members and Leaders

The percentage of HCPs considered rural for the consortium may have changed. Rural consortium members that are now considered non-rural may still be eligible to receive funding as non-rural if the consortium is still more than 50 percent rural within three years of submission of their first FCC Form 462 funding request.

Consortium leaders will need to examine the rurality of their consortia to see if they remain over 50 percent rural. Keep the following in mind:

  • A consortium has three years from the submission of their first FCC Form 462 funding request to establish the majority rural requirement for the consortium.
  • The expiration of each HCP consortium member’s rurality determination may vary depending on commitment type and submission date.