PATH’s Recommendations to the FCC on Proposed Changes to the Universal Service Fund

PATH, the Partnership for Artificial Intelligence, Telemedicine and Robotics in Healthcare (www.pathhealth.com), submitted its recommendations today to the Federal Communications Commission regarding its Proposed Rulemaking to change the Universal Service Fund (USF).

The USF is divided into four areas: High Cost, Schools and Libraries, Rural Health Care, and Lifeline, each area has own funding limit, or cap.  The Rural Health Care area is capped at $581 million, the smallest of the four areas.  In contrast, High Cost is limited to $4.5 billion, Schools and Libraries $4.1 billion and Lifeline at $2.3 billion.  The FCC has proposed that, instead of having individual funding caps for each program, an overall funding cap will be set for the USF.

PATH’s recommendations voice concern over the proposal’s impact on funding for rural healthcare, since the actual healthcare funding has increased over 50% from 2014 to 2017, faster than any other area.  PATH has recommended, instead of a single cap, that the FCC be allowed to reallocate funds among the areas based on any imbalance in their funding demands.  PATH also recommended that the Commission expand the ability to fund the telecommunications costs for school-based healthcare services.  PATH’s full comments can be read here.

PATH is an alliance of diverse stakeholders working together to improve care and build efficiencies using advanced technologies. PATH and its members are working to gain the support of decision makers and the public about the use of advanced technology in healthcare, moving the field beyond research and pilot projects, and laying out a pathway for the integration and use of advanced technologies in the worldwide ecosystem of medicine.