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USAC's Latest News Archive gives you access to all announcements related to the universal service programs as they were made throughout the years.

10/16/2019E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: October 19


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and the EPC training site will be unavailable all day on Saturday, October 19 for system maintenance. During this time, users will be unable to log in to and use EPC. We apologize for any inconvenience.

10/16/2019E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: October 20-21


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and the EPC training site will be unavailable from Sunday, October 20 at 7:00 p.m EDT through Monday, October 21 at 1:00 a.m. EDT for monthly system maintenance. During this time, users will be unable to log in to and use EPC. We apologize for any inconvenience.

10/11/2019News Brief Issued


The 10/11/2019 issue of the SL News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

10/7/2019RHC Program News for October 2019


Latest News

My Portal Multi-Factor Authentication
As mentioned in recent RHC webinars, USAC is updating security protocols to better protect your My Portal account. Beginning this fall, My Portal will use a multi-factor authentication login system, and all USAC applications, including RHC and E-Rate applications, will be behind a single log-in page. To prepare, please ensure that the primary email associated with your My Portal account is up to date. If you need to update your account email address, please email RHC-Assist@usac.org.

FCC Releases Report and Order: Promoting Telehealth in Rural America
On August 20, 2019, the Federal Communications Commission released a Report and Order reforming the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program to promote transparency and predictability, and to further the efficient allocation of limited program resources while guarding against waste, fraud, and abuse. More information is available on the USAC website and you can read the Report and Order here.  

For a summary of the upcoming changes, view the Report and Order web page or download the Report and Order Tip Sheet. A recording of the Report and Order Summary webinar is available here

Letter of Agency (LOA) My Portal Enhancements
My Portal no longer allows consortia leaders or account holders to submit forms on behalf of health care provider (HCP) sites with expired LOAs. Account holders of the consortia and their member HCPs will now receive automatic emails from My Portal when an LOA is about to expire and will be required to update any expired LOAs. For instructions on how to submit an updated LOA, view the LOA submission guide

Watch the New Consortia Best Practices Webinar
Our latest webinar is for those interested in forming a consortium and consortia account holders who are preparing for FY2020. The RHC Program team went over general questions about forming and organizing a consortium and how to get ready for the Request for Services (FCC Forms 461) process. Watch here!

Coming Soon! RHC Website Updates
In the upcoming weeks, USAC will be updating its public website, and the RHC public website will also be refreshed. Our goal is to make information easier to find and understand for all applicants. Changes will include consolidating information and simplifying the content. Please note that current USAC website bookmarks will not work with the updated website. Don’t worry! We will send more information before the new website is launched, and training will be available once it is live.

Important Reminders

Third Party Authorizations (TPAs) Must Be Up to Date
In order to be considered eligible for funding in FY2019 TPAs must be up to date through FY2019, at a minimum. Be especially mindful if you are an HCP using a consultant. Before submitting a form, please check to ensure your authorization documents are up to date. FCC Forms submitted with expired TPAs will result in applicants receiving Information Requests. Download a Sample TPA.  

Account Holder Guidance
Now that the FY2019 filing window has closed, it is a great time to review your HCP’s account holders. USAC recommends having at least one secondary account holder per HCP. We’ve created guides for primary account holders with instructions for adding additional account holders in My Portal:

What to do if You Receive an Information Request
FCC Forms submitted with incomplete or missing documentation cannot be processed, and RHC reviewers will reach out to all account holders (the primary and all secondary and tertiary account holders associated with that HCP) with a request for additional information (“Information Request”). Information Requests are sent to collect any missing documentation, address deficiencies, or to ask clarifying questions about the FCC Form. If you receive an Information Request, you must respond to it within 14 calendar days. Failure to respond within the 14 calendar days will result in a denial of funding, so be sure to meet that deadline.

Information Request Tips for the Telecom Program

  • Applicants can receive Telecom Program Information Requests through My Portal OR by email
    • For Information Requests received through My Portal, applicants should respond through My Portal only
    • For Information Requests received by email, applicants should “Reply All” to respond to the Information Request by email 
  • Use Chrome/Firefox Only when using My Portal
  • When uploading a document as a response, the document should be limited to 10MB and its file name should not contain any special characters, only letters and numbers

Information Request Tips for the HCF Program

  • Applicants that receive HCF Program Information Requests through email should “Reply All” to respond to an Information Request by email

FCC Form 460 Best Practice
During the submission of an FCC Form 460, we recommend that applicants upload any supporting documentation necessary to validate form data to the “Supporting Documentation” section. This includes any documentation that is relevant to the required fields of the FCC Form 460. Doing so creates additional visibility into the eligibility of the HCP and increases the likelihood of a faster review. A few examples include:

  • Hospital licenses, with the address clearly posted, to verify a non-profit hospital
  • A recent bill or lease, with the address clearly posted, to verify the HCP address provided on the FCC Form 460
  • Public tax documents to verify the Non-Profit Tax ID (EIN)
  • Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) accreditation to verify a community health center

You can submit your FCC Form 460 at any time during the funding year. 

Filing an Appeal
Any party that wishes to appeal a USAC decision must file an appeal with USAC within 60 days of the date when USAC issued the decision. All appeals must be sent to RHC-Appeals@usac.org. The following information must be included in the appeal:

  • Applicant or service provider who is filing the appeal (i.e. HCP number, service provider’s 498 ID (SPIN))
  • Contact information of the person who can discuss the appeal with USAC in detail  (include name, address, telephone number, and email address)
  • Documentation of USAC's decision (e.g., copy of USAC's decision letter being appealed)
  • Supporting documentation such as forms and previous correspondence with USAC
  • A precise explanation of the relief sought through the appeal

USAC may reach out for additional information while reviewing your appeal, but failure to provide all of the information listed above within the 60 days may result in denial of your appeal.  Parties seeking a waiver of FCC rules (e.g., waiver of deadlines) should file the waiver request directly with the FCC because USAC cannot waive FCC rules.  

For more information on filing appeals with USAC or the FCC, please visit the Appeals Page of the USAC website. 

Consortia Resources
HCF Program applicants who may be interested in forming a consortia can download three new resources to help them get started:

10/4/2019News Brief Issued


The 10/4/2019 issue of the SL News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

10/3/2019Mixed Merger Information and Requirements


Carriers must notify USAC within 30 days of a merger closing when a company receiving a fixed level of High Cost support (e.g. model-based support) acquires or is acquired by an average schedule company or a company receiving support based on its costs.

 

On May 11, 2018, the FCC released an order (FCC 18-62) approving the purchase of carrier receiving model-based support by a carrier receiving legacy support. This type of transaction is known as a “mixed merger.” FCC approval was subject to a condition now known as the “Hargray condition,” which caps the operating expense of the carriers of the combined entity that receive cost-based support.  The purpose of this condition is to prevent potential cost shifting.

 

This condition has been applied to subsequent mixed mergers and requires carriers to:

  1. Notify USAC of the merger within 30 days of the merger closing date.
  2. Submit the latest audited financial statements to USAC, including all notes and consolidating statements, by December 31, annually, for seven years following the merger. This submission should also include a certification that the carrier has complied with the “Hargray condition”.

 

Carriers should send these submissions to USAC at hcinfo@usac.org.

 

The condition “sunsets” if any of the cost-based carriers involved in the mixed merger become fixed-support carriers at any point during the seven-year period.  

 

For questions please write to hcinfo@usac.org or call (888) 641 – 8722 and ask for High Cost Operations.

10/1/2019Lifeline Program September Newsletter


FCC and USAC Announce National Verifier Full Launch Date June 2019 Launch


The National Verifier will fully launch in 11 additional states on Wednesday, October 23, 2019.

As of that date, service providers in the June 2019 soft launch group must use the National Verifier to determine the eligibility of all Lifeline applicants before enrolling them in the program. This includes:

  • Arizona, 
  • Connecticut,
  • Georgia,
  • Iowa,
  • Kansas,
  • Nebraska,
  • Nevada,
  • New York,
  • Vermont,
  • Virginia, and
  • West Virginia

 
Service providers will be only able to enroll applicants in the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) if they have an active and approved eligibility decision from the National Verifier.

Consumers in these states who wish to apply for Lifeline through the National Verifier will be able to use the consumer portal at CheckLifeline.org/lifeline or submit a paper application directly to the Lifeline Support Center starting Wednesday, October 23, 2019.

Service providers in this launch will receive additional communications from USAC with specific information regarding the full launch of the National Verifier.

If you are a service provider in the June 2019 launch and have not received information about the full launch, email us at LifelineProgram@usac.org.

National Verifier Soft Launches in 10 Additional States - October 2019 Launch

The National Verifier will soft launch in the following states on Friday, October 11:

  • Alabama,
  • Arkansas,
  • Louisiana,
  • Massachusetts,
  • Maryland,
  • New Jersey,
  • Oklahoma,
  • Puerto Rico,
  • South Carolina, and
  • Washington.


Service providers in the October 2019 launch states can initiate eligibility checks using the National Verifier service provider portal or by sending paper forms and eligibility documentation to the Lifeline Support Center.

During the soft launch period, service providers can continue using their legacy eligibility checking procedures if they choose. Training opportunities for this launch can be found on USAC’s website.

Lifeline National Verifier Connects to Nationwide Medicaid Data

Partnership Simplifies Qualification for Lifeline Consumers, Bolsters Lifeline Program Integrity

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced a new National Verifier data connection for nationwide Medicaid data with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that benefits consumers who wish to enroll or are currently enrolled in the federal Lifeline program. This connection took effect on Tuesday, September 17, 2019.     

The Impact of the CMS Connection 

The FCC’s Lifeline program provides eligible low-income consumers a monthly discount on phone and/or Internet service. Participation in Medicaid is one way consumers can show that they qualify for the Lifeline program. It is anticipated that the CMS data connection will enable the National Verifier, which USAC administers on behalf of the FCC, to automatically confirm the eligibility of up to 60% of consumers seeking to enroll in Lifeline.

This will lower the burden associated with proving Lifeline eligibility for Medicaid participants and allow for a quicker eligibility determination while promoting the integrity of the Lifeline program. Both new applications and recertifications (required annually to continue to receive Lifeline service) that are processed through the National Verifier will benefit from this new connection.

For more details regarding the CMS connection, please visit the FCC’s website.

National Verifier Carrier API Updates

Beginning Thursday, September 19, service providers were able to start testing the National Verifier Carrier Eligibility APIs in the staging (pre-production) environment. Service providers should use the requests and mock data provided by USAC in the API Specifications when testing.

Carriers can request the specifications by emailing LifelineProgram@usac.org with the subject line “NV Carrier API Specifications.” For more information regarding the staging release of the National Verifier APIs, visit our Latest News page.

For questions regarding Phase 1 of the National Verifier APIs testing, email LifelineProgram@usac.org.

New Minimum Service Standards to Take Effect December 2019

The FCC recently announced updates to the Lifeline Minimum Service Standards, to take effect on December 1, 2019. These updates were calculated according to a formula established in the 2016 Lifeline Order.

Next Steps for Service Providers

Carriers who provide Lifeline-supported services will need to notify subscribers of the changes to the minimum service standards. USAC understands these changes may affect customer billing and/or service options.

Carriers also will need to make any necessary updates to the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) as a result of the new standards to ensure that the ‘service type’ for each subscriber is accurate. It is crucial this information is correct, as this is the first time that ‘service type’ will determine the amount of reimbursement that is paid. 

We are working to prepare our call center for consumers’ calls related to the minimum service standard updates. If you have any questions regarding these changes, please contact us at Lifelineprogram@usac.org.


USAC is aware some stakeholders have filed petitions with the FCC concerning the changes to the minimum service standards. Those petitions are still under FCC review.

Representative Accountability Database (RAD) Updates

While the RAD remains fully permissive and purely in the testing stage, USAC has:

  1. Revised the instructions on how to link Representative IDs to test accounts in the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) pre-production environment, 
  2. Released the Linked Representatives Report in the NLAD pre-production environment, and
  3. Adjusted the RAD document submission process for resolving errors associated with a Representative ID.

To ensure a smooth transition, enrollment representatives are encouraged to obtain a unique Representative ID now, well before a Representative ID is required by USAC systems.

RAD Pre-Production Linking Guides

Revised instructions on how to link Representative IDs to test accounts in the NLAD pre-production environment are posted on USAC’s RAD Resources page. Service providers can review the guidelines specific to API accounts and individual user accounts . Both instructions include a list of test Representative IDs that service providers must use when linking accounts in NLAD pre-production. To access NLAD pre-production, service providers may use the same log in information used to access NLAD production or an already created test account. Please note that any testing performed in the pre-production environment will not be reflected in the production environment.

Service providers should use the guides to test:

  1. The process of linking Representative IDs to accounts, 
  2. And the validations on a Representative ID that will occur during transactions.

Linked Representatives Report in NLAD Pre-Production

USAC has released the Linked Representatives Report in NLAD pre-production. Once test Representative IDs are successfully linked to test accounts, this report will provide information about the representatives linked to the ETC Administrator’s or Form 497 Officer’s SPINs.  

To review the Linked Representatives Report in NLAD pre-production:

  1. Go to the “Reports and Tools” in the left navigation bar of the NLAD page,
  2. Click “Reports,” and
  3. Click “Linked Representatives Report.”

Once you are on the Linked Representatives Report page:

  1. Select “SPIN(s)” and “Representative ID Status” (optional),
  2. Select how you want to review the report,
  • When you select “Display on a web page” option, and click “Submit,” the page will display a table titled “Linked Representatives Report.”
  • When you select the “CSV file with each row containing selected data on a single representative” under the “Select Report Format” and click “Submit,” a csv file named “LinkedRepresentativesReport.csv” will download.

USAC encourages service providers to familiarize themselves with this report and the process to link accounts to Representative IDs in the NLAD pre-production environment.

Adjustments to the RAD Document Submission Process

After receiving feedback from service providers and representatives about resolving errors during the Representative ID registration process, USAC has developed a second option for representatives to submit their documentation. In addition to mailing in copies of documentation to resolve errors associated with a representative’s identity or when they appear as a duplicate representative, representatives may now upload documentation through USAC’s secure web page.

Action Required: Update Field on FCC Form 498

The Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 or DATA Act, requires federal agencies to publish standardized spending data on https://usaspending.gov. To comply with the DATA Act, USAC updated the FCC Form 498 to include a section for DATA Act business types.

Service providers are required to update their FCC Form 498 in E-File with their organization’s business type(s). Service providers can select up to three business types ranked in order of importance. Service providers will also need to include their Dun and Bradstreet number. For steps on how to update these fields, check the DATA Act webpage.

Once the service provider updates the business type field, an Officer will need to certify and approve the FCC Form 498 before this process is complete and the information is shared with USAC.

For questions about the DATA Act or your FCC Form 498, service providers can call USAC at (888) 641-8722 or email FINOPS-Processing@usac.org. 

October Monthly Webinar: Lifeline Website Demo

Join us on Wednesday, October 9 for our next Lifeline Program webinar. During this webinar, we will discuss USAC’s upcoming website updates. We will provide an overview of website enhancements and a demo of the new look of the website. Following the presentation, we will take provider questions.

This session is designed for service providers and Lifeline stakeholders in all states and territories. You can access the slides and recordings from previous webinars on our Learn: Webinars page.

 

9/27/2019News Brief Issued


The 9/27/2019 issue of the SL News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

9/25/2019Legacy System Outage Due to System Maintenance - September 26


The Schools and Libraries (E-rate) Program legacy systems will be unavailable from 9:00-10:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday, September 26 for system maintenance. During this time, users will be unable to file invoices and use some of the search tools. The BEAR training site will also be unavailable. We apologize for any inconvenience.

 

NOTE: The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) will not be affected by this maintenance.

9/25/2019Upcoming Changes to Lifeline Systems


Changes to Lifeline Staging (Pre-Production) Environments

Several changes coming soon to Lifeline systems. These changes are relevant to both the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) and National Verifier (NV) users. They include a new hostname for NLAD APIs, refined NV test data, and a new authentication method.  The first two of these changes are now available for testing in the staging (pre-production) environments.

New Hostname for NLAD APIs

By late November, the NLAD APIs will require use of a new hostname in both the staging and production environments. The new hostname is being implemented to improve the security and performance of the NLAD system. Service providers can now begin testing the new hostname to be used when submit transactions or other requests to NLAD by API. Service providers should alert their technical teams or business partners whose enrollment or billing system interacts with NLAD via API of the change and the new hostname (provided below).

Today’s staging release is the first of a three-step rollout process for the new hostname.

  • September 25, 2019 - Begin testing the new hostname in the staging environment. The current hostname will continue to work in the staging environment at this time.
  • Late October 2019 – Optional use of the new hostname in the production environment begins. The current hostname will continue to work in the production environment until late November.  
  • Late November 2019 – Required use of the new hostname in both the staging and production environments. The current hostname will no longer work.


The new hostname will be “api-stg.universalservice.org”/ “api.universalservice.org” for the staging/production environments. All other components of the base URL for the NLAD APIs will remain the same. For example, an enrollment request submitted to the staging environment using the new hostname would be:

https://api-stg.universalservice.org/svc/1/subscriber

(Note: This is not a clickable link. This is an example URL request.)

Please contact NLADsupport@usac.org for questions regarding this change. USAC will provide exact dates for the next steps in this rollout as they are available.

Revised Test Data for the National Verifier Web Portal Training Environmen


As of September 19th, Service Providers are able to generate different combinations of errors based on the test PII inputted in the NV Web Portal when testing in the training environment.


Generating Eligibility Errors: Eligibility errors will be generate according to the first number entered in the SSN4 field.


If the first number is a 0 or an even number, the consumer will not have an eligibility error.
If the first number is odd, the consumer will have an eligibility error.
If only a Tribal ID is used, the consumer will have an eligibility error.
If a BQP is used, the validation will be based off the BQP’s SSN4 or Tribal ID, not the consumer’s.

Generating TPIV Errors: TPIV errors will be generated according to the first letter of the consumer’s last name.


Last names starting with A-C or V-Z will pass all TPIV checks.
Last names starting with D-E will fail TPIV SSN4.
Last names starting with F-G will fail TPIV DOB.
Last names starting with H-I will fail both TPIV DOB and TPIV SSN4.
Last names starting with J-K will fail TPIV Identity Not Found.
Last names starting with L-U will fail TPIV Deceased.

Generating AMS Errors: AMS errors will be generated according to the first letter of the residential street address used.


Street addresses starting with A-M will pass AMS.
Street addresses starting with N-Z will fail AMS.

New Authentication Method for the NLAD and National Verifier APIs

Beginning in late October 2019, service providers will have the option to use a new authentication method for transactions and other requests sent to NLAD or the National Verifier by API. Service providers should alert their technical teams or business partners whose enrollment or billing system interacts with NLAD via API of the coming change.

The NLAD and National Verifier APIs currently require use of the Basic Authentication scheme. The change in late October gives users the option to authenticate using the OAuth standard. The option will apply to use of the NLAD APIs in the staging and production environments and use of the National Verifier APIs in the staging environment. Details on how to use OAuth with the Lifeline APIs will be provided in updated API Specification documents at that time.

The release in late October will be the first step in the process of implementing OAuth authentication. USAC expects that OAuth will become the required authentication method sometime in 2020. Implementation dates and details will be shared as they are available.

9/24/2019Register for Fall Applicant Training


In last Friday's SL News Brief, we neglected to include that there is also space in the Atlanta, GA fall applicant training. Register here for the Atlanta session or any of the remaining training dates.

9/24/2019Webinar Annoucement - 498/499 ID Basics - October 8


Tue, Oct 8, 2019 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM EDT

This webinar is intended for all providers new to the Universal Service programs. Learn the difference between a 498 and 499 ID as well as the process to request and obtain these IDs. We will outline information required to register each, walk through the registration process, and discuss what happens after you submit your registration.  

Register here!

 

9/24/2019Webinar Announcement - FCC Form 499-Q Basics - October 1


Tue, Oct 1, 2019 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM EDT

This webinar is intended for all providers interested in learning/reviewing the general requirements for filing the FCC Form 499-Q, the quarterly telecommunications worksheet. This training is recommended for new filers, outlining who should file the form, when to file the form, and how revenue reported on the form is used to determine the monthly support mechanism charge.

Register here!

9/23/2019USAC Announces National Verifier Full Launch for June 2019 Launch


Today, the FCC and USAC announced that the Lifeline National Verifier will fully launch in the following localities on Wednesday, October 23, 2019:


•    Arizona
•    Connecticut
•    Georgia
•    Iowa
•    Kansas
•    Nebraska
•    Nevada
•    New York
•    Vermont
•    Virginia
•    West Virginia


At that time, service providers in the June 2019 launch must check all Lifeline applicants’ eligibility through the National Verifier.

At the full launch, consumers who wish to apply for Lifeline directly through the National Verifier can use the consumer portal or submit a paper application directly to the Lifeline Support Center. USAC will share more information with service providers in the June 2019 Launch shortly.

9/20/2019News Brief Issued


The 9/20/2019 issue of the SL News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

9/19/2019Now Available: National Verifier Carrier Eligibility API Test Environment


Beginning today, Thursday, September 19, service providers are able to start testing the National Verifier Carrier APIs in the staging (pre-production) environment. Carriers can request the API specifications by emailing LifelineProgram@usac.org with the subject line “NV Carrier API Specifications.”


Background


USAC and the FCC are moving forward with APIs that enable carriers to interface directly with the National Verifier. The APIs will be used by service providers to conduct eligibility checks and receive eligibility result responses. We anticipate that these APIs will be used by service providers to streamline the Lifeline application process and provide a better customer service experience to their Lifeline customers.

Two APIs are now available for these purposes. The first API, referred to as the “Eligibility Check API,” enables service providers to initiate an application for Lifeline in the National Verifier via API. The second API, referred to as the “Status Check API,” enables service providers to retrieve the current status of a consumer’s application, using a unique identifier or token created during the eligibility check.

More information about each of these optional APIs and how to use them is provided in the specification document. In addition, USAC will host office hours to discuss Phase 1 of the National Verifier APIs testing on Thursday, September 26. Register for these office hours here.


The recording from yesterday's National Verifier Carrier API webinar will be available shortly on the Lifeline Learn page.


Accessing the API


Carriers can proceed with testing using the requests and mock data provided in the API Specifications. They should use the following service URL to point their request towards the staging (pre-production) environment: https://api-stg.universalservice.org/nvca-svc/.

Service providers can create a new API ID or they can use the same API ID that they already use for testing the existing NLAD APIs. If they choose to create a new API ID for testing the National Verifier APIs, they should follow the same API ID creation process that is used to create an NLAD API ID. An API ID that works for NLAD will also work when testing the National Verifier APIs.


Interconnectivity Service Agreements


Use of the National Verifier APIs in the production environment will require an interconnection security agreement (ISA), which is a federal security standards best practice and is needed to comply with National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) standards that ensure the security of USAC’s systems.  The ISA is an agreement established between USAC and each service provider to document the technical requirements and terms of use for accessing the National Verifier APIs. Service providers who plan to use the APIs should begin to consider who to engage within their company to review and sign such a document. USAC will share the ISA template in early fall. 

An executed ISA will be required to use the National Verifier APIs when they are released to the production environment. At that time, an executed ISA will also be required to continue testing in the staging (pre-production) environment. However, an executed ISA is not necessary during the initial testing period.


Questions and Additional Information


Please direct questions regarding the National Verifier APIs to LifelineProgram@usac.org.

9/18/2019Upcoming National Verifier Maintenance


Scheduled System Maintenance, September 20

The National Verifier production environment will be unavailable due to scheduled maintenance starting Friday, September 20 from 10:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m. ET. Additionally, NLAD users will not be able to perform verify, enroll, or transfer transactions using NLAD’s production National Verifier mode.

NLAD users will still be able to use the legacy workflow and reports in the production environment. National Verifier and NLAD’s pre-production environments will also be available for use during this time.

9/18/2019Lifeline National Verifier Connection to Nationwide Medicaid Data


Partnership Simplifies Qualification for Lifeline Consumers, Bolsters Lifeline Program Integrity

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced a new National Verifier data connection for nationwide Medicaid data with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that benefits consumers who wish to enroll or are currently enrolled in the federal Lifeline program. This connection took effect on Tuesday, September 17, 2019.     


The Impact of the Nationwide Connection

The FCC’s Lifeline program provides eligible low-income consumers a monthly discount on phone and/or Internet service. Participation in Medicaid is one way consumers can show that they qualify for the Lifeline program. It is anticipated that the CMS data connection will enable the National Verifier, which USAC administers on behalf of the FCC, to automatically confirm the eligibility of up to 60% of consumers seeking to enroll in Lifeline.

This will provide a quicker and lower burden eligibility decision for eligible Lifeline customers nationwide while promoting the integrity of the Lifeline program.

At this time, any new application or recertification (required annually to continue to receive Lifeline service) that is processed through the National Verifier will benefit from this new connection.

Learn More

For more details regarding the CMS connection, please visit the FCC’s website.

9/18/2019E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: September 22-23


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and the EPC training site will be unavailable from Sunday, September 22 at 7:00 p.m EDT through Monday, September 23 at 1:00 a.m. EDT for monthly system maintenance. During this time, users will be unable to log in to and use EPC. We apologize for any inconvenience.

9/17/2019NLAD System Notification


Resolved: NLAD Intermittent Connectivity Issues

USAC is aware that National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) users may have been experiencing issues completing transactions in NLAD. Users should now be able to perform all transactions successfully. If you continue to experience issues, please contact the Lifeline Support Center at LifelineSupport@usac.org or (800) 234-9473.

9/13/2019News Brief Issued


The 9/13/2019 issue of the SL News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

9/13/2019Upcoming Scheduled System Maintenance - September


USAC is conducting monthly scheduled maintenance starting Friday, September 13 at 9 p.m. until Saturday, September 14 at 10 a.m. ET. 

During this time, some applications may not be available.

9/13/2019FCC Announces 4th Quarter 2019 Contribution Factor Increase to 25.0 Percent


The FCC released a Public Notice (DA 19-910)  announcing that the proposed universal service contribution factor for the fourth quarter, October - December 2019 will be .250 or 25.0 percent.    

9/13/20192019 Applicant Training at USAC - Week of September 16


The first sessions of USAC’s annual applicant trainings will take place at USAC’s office located at 700 12th Street NW, Suite 900, Washington, DC 20005 the week of September 16, 2019. For those of you joining us at USAC next week, here are a few reminders to help you prepare for the training.

  • Half-Day Beginners Training - Monday, September 16 and Thursday September 19: 12:30 p.m.- 5:00 p.m. 
    These identical, half-day afternoon trainings are specifically for beginner participants who want the very basics of the program.
  • Full-Day General Training - Tuesday, September 17 and Friday, September 20: 9:00 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.
    These identical, full-day trainings are designed for participants of all proficiency levels.

 

Registration: Please bring a photo ID. The name on USAC’s registration records must match the name of the person who attends the training. We are at full capacity and will not be able to accommodate walk-in registrations.

 

Check-in Process:

  1. Enter the 12th Street lobby at 700 12th St. NW, Washington, DC 20005.
  2. Go to the security desk in the building lobby to receive your security pass. 
  3. Take the elevator to the 9th floor. 
  4. A USAC representative by the elevators will guide you to the training event.
  5. Go to the registration desk in USAC's lobby to check in and receive your name badge and training agenda. 

 

NOTE: If you are attending two days of training, you will need to check in with USAC and receive a security pass at the beginning of each day.

 

Download the Training Materials: Training materials are available on our website. We will be paperless again this year, and will not have printouts. Please plan accordingly.

 

Food: Attendees should make their own arrangements for meals. USAC will provide recommendations for nearby breakfast and lunch options within short walking distance, of which there are many.

 

We look forward to seeing you next week. For more information on our 2019 training events, please reference our 2019 Service Provider & Applicant Trainings page.

9/12/2019Upcoming Scheduled System Maintenance


Scheduled System Maintenance, September 16

In addition to September's monthly maintenance scheduled for tomorrow, the National Verifier pre-production and production environment will be unavailable due to scheduled maintenance starting Monday, September 16 from 9:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. ET. Additionally, NLAD users will not be able to perform verify, enroll, or transfer transactions using NLAD’s pre-production and production National Verifier mode.

NLAD users will still be able to use the legacy workflow and reports in the pre-production and production environments.

9/12/2019Legacy System Outage Due to System Maintenance: September 13-14


The Schools and Libraries (E-rate) Program legacy systems will be unavailable from 9:00 p.m. EDT on Friday, September 13 through 10:00 a.m. EDT on Saturday, September 14 for system maintenance. During this time, users will be unable to file invoices and use some of the search tools. The BEAR training site will also be unavailable. We apologize for any inconvenience.

 

NOTE: The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) will not be affected by this maintenance.

9/12/2019FY2018 Annual Report for HCF Program Consortia Due September 30


Per Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Program rules, all consortia receiving Rural Health Care (RHC) Program funding are required to submit an annual report to USAC using an Excel template (available for download on the USAC website) to supplement information collected in RHC Program application forms. The reports for funding year (FY) 2018 (July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2019) are due September 30, 2019.

Who needs to submit the FY2018 Annual Report?

The FCC requires HCF consortia who received funding in FY2018 (July 1 2018 – June 30, 2019) to submit information to USAC about the telehealth applications used during the funding year.

The consortium leader must submit an annual report for each funding year in which the consortium received HCF support and for the life of a supported facility for which the consortium received large upfront payments.

How to Submit the FY2018 Annual Report

  1. Download the HCF Program annual report template from our website
  2. In the “Telehealth Services” tab, review the telehealth applications in column A and use the dropdown menu in column B to select “Yes” for each telehealth application for which the consortium received funding in FY2018.
  3. Save the template with a file name that includes the consortium name and HCP number.
  4. Email the completed template to RHC-assist@usac.org by September 30, 2019.
  5. Failure to submit the required annual report(s) by the deadline may result in the denial of program funding.

About Annual Reports
Consortia must submit annual reports to help USAC and the FCC understand the progress made each year in meeting the program’s performance goals to:

  • Increase broadband access for healthcare providers, particularly those serving rural areas;
  • Maximize program cost-effectiveness.

9/11/2019Reminder: Upcoming Scheduled System Maintenance


Scheduled System Maintenance, September 13

The National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD), National Verifier, and Lifeline Claims System (LCS) will be unavailable due to September's monthly maintenance starting Friday, September 13 from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. ET.
 
NLAD, National Verifier, and LCS pre-production and production environments will not be available for use during this time.

9/6/2019News Brief Issued


The 9/6/2019 issue of the SL News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

9/5/2019Hurricane Dorian Impact on Customer Service


Hurricane Dorian's path has impacted USAC's call center. The E-rate Client Service Bureau, the Rural Health Care Support Center, and the High Cost Support Center will close at 6 p.m. Friday, September 6, 2019. Operations will re-open Monday as scheduled. We appreciate your patience.

9/5/2019Hurricane Dorian Impact on the RHC Help Desk


As Hurricane Dorian moves up the East Coast, our call centers may feel the effects of the weather event. If you try contacting the E-rate Client Service Bureau, the Rural Health Care Program Help Desk, or the High Cost Support Center on Friday, September 6, 2019, you might experience longer than normal wait times. We are working as quickly as possible to answer your calls. We appreciate your patience.

9/5/2019RHC Program News for September 2019


Latest News

FCC Releases Report and Order: Promoting Telehealth in Rural America
On August 20, 2019, the Federal Communications Commission released a Report and Order reforming the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program to promote transparency and predictability, and to further the efficient allocation of limited program resources while guarding against waste, fraud, and abuse. More information is available on the USAC website and you can read the Report and Order here.  

For a summary of the upcoming changes, view the Report and Order web page or download the Report and Order Tip Sheet. A recording of the Report and Order Summary webinar will be available in the Online Learning Library in a few days. 

FY2018 Consortia Annual Reports Due September 30
Per Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Program rules, all consortia receiving Rural Health Care (RHC) Program funding are required to submit an annual report to USAC using an Excel template (available for download on the USAC website) to supplement information collected in RHC Program application forms. The reports for FY2018 (July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2019) are due September 30, 2019.

Who Needs to Submit the Annual Report? HCF Program consortia must submit an annual report for each funding year in which the consortium received HCF support and for the life of a supported facility for which the consortium received large upfront payments. 

For instructions on how to complete and submit the FY2018 Annual Report, please visit our website.

Letter of Agency (LOA) My Portal Enhancements
My Portal will no longer allow consortia leaders or account holders to submit forms on behalf of health care provider (HCP) sites with expired LOAs. Account holders of the consortia and their member HCPs will now receive automatic emails from My Portal when an LOA is about to expire and will be required to update any expired LOAs. For instructions on how to submit an updated LOA, view the LOA submission guide

Sign Up for the Consortia Best Practices Webinar on September 12 at 2:00 p.m. ET
This webinar is for those interested in forming a consortia and consortia account holders who are preparing for FY2020. The RHC Program team will go over general questions about forming and organizing a consortia and how to get ready for the Request for Services (FCC Forms 461) process. Register here

Coming Soon! RHC Website Updates
In mid-October, USAC will be updating its public website, and the RHC public website will also be refreshed. Our goal is to make information easier to find and understand for all applicants. Changes will include consolidating information and simplifying the content. Please note that current USAC website bookmarks will not work with the updated website. Don’t worry! We will send more information before the new website is launched, and training will be available once it is live.

Important Reminders


Third Party Authorizations (TPAs) Must Be Up to Date
In order to be considered eligible for funding in FY2019 TPAs must be up to date through FY2019, at a minimum. Be especially mindful if you are an HCP using a consultant. Before submitting a form, please check to ensure your authorization documents are up to date. FCC Forms submitted with expired TPAs will result in applicants receiving Information Requests. Download a Sample TPA.  

Account Holder Guidance
Now that the FY2019 filing window has closed, it is a great time to review your HCP’s account holders. USAC recommends having at least one secondary account holder per HCP. We’ve created guides for primary account holders with instructions for adding additional account holders in My Portal:

What to do if You Receive an Information Request
FCC Forms submitted with incomplete or missing documentation will not be reviewed, and RHC reviewers will reach out to all account holders (the primary and all secondary and tertiary account holders associated with that HCP) with a request for additional information (“Information Request”). Information Requests are sent to collect any missing documentation, address deficiencies, or to ask clarifying questions about the FCC Form. If you receive an Information Request, you must respond to it within 14 calendar days. Failure to respond within the 14 calendar days will result in a denial of funding, so be sure to meet that deadline.

Information Request Tips for the Telecom Program

  • Applicants can receive Telecom Information Requests through My Portal OR by email
    • For Information Requests received through My Portal, applicants should respond through My Portal only
    • For Information Requests received by email, applicants should “Reply All” to respond to the Information Request by email 
  • Use Chrome/Firefox Only when using My Portal
  • When uploading a document as a response, the document should be limited to 10MB and should not contain any special characters, only letters and numbers

Information Request Tips for the HCF Program

  • Applicants that receive HCF Program Information Requests through email should “Reply All” to respond to an Information Request by email

FCC Form 460 Best Practice
During the submission of an FCC Form 460, we recommend that applicants upload any supporting documentation necessary to validate form data to the “Supporting Documentation” section. This includes any documentation that is relevant to the required fields of the FCC Form 460. Doing so creates additional visibility into the eligibility of the HCP and increases the chance of a faster review. A few examples include:

  • Hospital licenses, with the address clearly posted, to verify a non-profit hospital
  • A recent bill or lease, with the address clearly posted, to verify the HCP address provided on the FCC Form 460
  • Public tax documents to verify the Non-Profit Tax ID (EIN)
  • Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) accreditation to verify a community health center

Please keep in mind that the FCC Form 460 review can take up to 30 days. You can submit your FCC Form 460 at any time during the funding year. 

Filing an Appeal
Any party that wishes to appeal a USAC decision must file an appeal with USAC within 60 days of the date when USAC issued the decision. All appeals must be sent to RHC-Appeals@usac.org. The following information must be included in the appeal:

  • Applicant or service provider who is filing the appeal (i.e. HCP number, service provider’s 498 ID (SPIN))
  • Contact information of the person who can discuss the appeal with USAC in detail  (include name, address, telephone number, and email address)
  • Documentation of USAC's decision (e.g., copy of USAC's decision letter being appealed)
  • Supporting documentation such as forms and previous correspondence with USAC
  • A precise explanation of the relief sought through the appeal

USAC may reach out for additional information while reviewing your appeal, but failure to provide all of the information above within the 60 days may result in denial of your appeal.  Parties seeking a waiver of FCC rules (e.g., waiver of deadlines) should file an appeal directly with the FCC because USAC cannot waive FCC rules.  

For more information on filing appeals with USAC or the FCC, please visit the appeals page of the USAC website. 

Consortia Resources
HCF Program applicants who may be interested in forming a consortia can download three new resources to help them get started:

8/31/2019Resolved: Lifeline Support Center Calls Disrupted


This morning the Lifeline Support Center experienced technical difficulties that may have prevented callers from reaching support staff by phone. USAC quickly identified the issue and it has been resolved. Full connectivity is restored. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

8/30/2019News Brief Issued


The 8/30/2019 issue of the SL News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

8/30/2019Register for the FCC Report and Order 19-78 Informational Webinar


On August 20, 2019, the Federal Communications Commission released Report and Order 19-78: Promoting Telehealth in America. This webinar will summarize the Order and provide a high-level overview of the upcoming changes, which affect FY2020 and beyond. Register here

8/30/2019Lifeline Program August Newsletter


National Verifier Progress – System Updates

National Verifier Carrier Eligibility API

USAC has begun development of an application programming interface (API) for the National Verifier that would permit service providers to interface directly with the National Verifier to conduct eligibility checks and receive eligibility result responses. This enhancement will allow service providers to better integrate the National Verifier with their own online enrollment systems and processes, while still maintaining program integrity.

This month, USAC hosted discussions with service providers who use the NLAD API to ensure they have an opportunity to learn about the tool and provide their feedback on the implementation. We look forward to continuing conversations with service providers as development of the carrier API moves forward. USAC anticipates that the technical specifications will be available and that initial testing will begin this fall.

For more information on the carrier API, join our September monthly webinar.

September Monthly Webinar: National Verifier Carrier Eligibility API

Join us on Wednesday, September 18 for our next Lifeline Program webinar. During this webinar, we will discuss the status of the National Verifier Carrier Eligibility API. We will give an overview of how the National Verifier works for service providers today and how the carrier eligibility API aims to improve the experience. We will also provide a high-level walk through of the API functionality and set timeline expectations. Following the presentation, we will take provider questions.

This session is designed for service providers and Lifeline stakeholders in all states and territories. You can access the slides and recordings from previous webinars on our Learn: Webinars page.

Representative Accountability Database (RAD) Timeline

The Representative Accountability Database (RAD) is now available for use.  Full implementation of RAD is intended, with timelines currently under review. At this time, registration is voluntary. To ensure a smooth transition, enrollment representatives are encouraged to obtain a unique Representative ID now, well before a Representative ID is required by USAC systems. We pledge to share updates, including when a Representative ID is required, as they become available.

For more information on RAD, you can find resources on the Lifeline RAD and training on the Lifeline Learn page.

Recertification Reminder
For USAC Elected Service Providers and Those in National Verifier States

In April 2019, USAC transitioned to a daily batching process for subscribers undergoing annual recertification that are part of the USAC-Elected process (in states where the National Verifier has not launched) or National Verifier recertification processes.

Recertification Overview:

  • Recertification begins 90 days before a subscriber’s anniversary date in the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD). 
  • Recertification checks will be conducted every day, and 60-day recertification windows will be initiated every business day.
  • Consumers, who are scheduled for recertification, have a 60-day window to successfully recertify their Lifeline benefit using one of the three recertification methods – paper forms, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) or online.
  • Service providers will be able to see which subscribers are currently undergoing recertification via the Recertification Subscriber Status Report, which is available in NLAD.


If a subscriber does not successfully recertify, USAC will notify the subscriber via mail within 2-3 business days and they will be automatically de-enrolled from NLAD five (5) business days after the conclusion of their recertification window.  After the de-enrollment has occurred, NLAD will send an automated email to notify the service provider and the Failed Recertification De-Enroll Report will be updated.

Please be advised that only the ETC Administrator user role in NLAD will receive the automated de-enrollment notices. USAC is actively working with our IT team to see if additional users can be added to recertification de-enrollment notices in the future.

Recertification Enhancements for Consumers in National Verifier States

With recent enhancements to the National Verifier consumer portal, consumers in hard launch states will be able see their recertification status once logged into the portal. From this window, consumers will also be able to complete any pending recertifications.

8/29/2019Upcoming National Verifier Maintenance


Scheduled System Maintenance, September 5

The National Verifier pre-production and production environment will be unavailable due to scheduled maintenance starting Thursday, September 5 from 9:00 p.m. until midnight ET. Additionally, NLAD users will not be able to perform verify, enroll, or transfer transactions using NLAD’s pre-production and production National Verifier mode.

NLAD users will still be able to use the legacy workflow and reports in the pre-production and production environments.

8/23/2019News Brief Issued


The 8/23/2019 issue of the SL News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

8/21/2019E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: August 25-26


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and the EPC training site will be unavailable from Sunday, August 25 at 7:00 p.m EDT through Monday, August 26 at 1:00 a.m. EDT for monthly system maintenance. During this time, users will be unable to log in to and use EPC. We apologize for any inconvenience.

8/21/2019UPDATE: Upcoming Scheduled System Maintenance


Scheduled System Maintenance, August 23 Update

The scheduled maintenance set for Friday, August 23 from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. will only impact the National Verifier.

The National Verifier’s production environment will not be available for use during this time.

Users of NLAD’s National Verifier workflow will not be able to enroll, transfer, or update subscriber information in NLAD’s production environment. NLAD UI and API users can continue to access reports and perform de-enrollments during this time.

8/20/2019Legacy System Outage Due to System Maintenance - August 21


The Schools and Libraries (E-rate) Program legacy systems will be unavailable from 9:00-10:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, August 21 for system maintenance. During this time, users will be unable to file invoices and use some of the search tools. The BEAR training site will also be unavailable. We apologize for any inconvenience.

 

NOTE: The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) will not be affected by this maintenance.

8/16/2019News Brief Issued


The 8/16/2019 issue of the SL News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

8/14/2019Lifeline Monthly Webinar Rescheduled


The Lifeline August Monthly Webinar has been rescheduled from Wednesday, August 14, 2019 to Wednesday, August 21, 2019 due to a webianr platform system outage. 

Participants do ot need to re-register for the webinar - the  previou registration will roll over to next week.  If you did not registar for today's webianr and would like to join the rescheduled event, you can register here.  

We apologize for the inconvenience and look forward to engaging with you on August 21.

8/9/2019News Brief Issued


The 8/9/2019 issue of the SL News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

8/2/2019News Brief Issued


The 8/2/2019 issue of the SL News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

8/2/20192019 Service Provider Training - Week of August 5


USAC’s annual service provider trainings will take place at USAC’s office located at 700 12th Street NW, Suite 900, Washington, DC 20005 the week of August 5, 2019. For those of you joining us at USAC next week, here are a few reminders to help you prepare for the training.

  • Half-Day Beginners Training - Monday, August 5 and Thursday August 8: 12:30 p.m.- 4:30 p.m.
    These identical, half-day afternoon trainings are specifically for beginner participants who want the very basics of the program.
  • Full-Day General Training - Tuesday, August 6 and Friday, August 9: 9:00 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.
    These identical, full-day trainings are designed for participants of all proficiency levels.

Registration: Please bring a photo ID. The name on USAC’s registration records must match the name of the person who attends the training. We are at full capacity and will not be able to accommodate walk-in registrations.

Check-in Process:

  1. Enter the 12th Street lobby at 700 12th St. NW, Washington, DC 20005.
  2. Go to the security desk in the building lobby to receive your security pass. 
  3. A USAC representative by the elevators will guide you to the training event.
  4. Go to the registration desk in USAC's lobby to check in and receive your name badge and training agenda. 

NOTE: If you are attending two days of training, you will need to check in with USAC and receive a security pass at the beginning of each day.

Download the Training Materials: Training materials are available on our website. We will be paperless again this year, and will not have printouts. Please plan accordingly.

Food: Attendees should make their own arrangements for meals. USAC will provide recommendations for nearby breakfast and lunch options within short walking distance, of which there are many.

We look forward to seeing you next week. For more information on our 2019 training events, please reference our 2019 Service Provider & Applicant Trainings page.

 

8/2/2019FCC Issues Public Notice on Draft ESL for FY2020


On August 2, 2019, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a Public Notice (DA 19-738) establishing the comment period for the Funding Year (FY) 2020 Eligible Services List (ESL). Comments on the draft ESL, which is attached to the Public Notice, are due to the FCC on or before September 3, 2019. Reply comments are due to the FCC on or before September 18, 2019. For information on filing comments with the FCC, please refer to the Public Notice.

 

8/2/2019FCC Adopts Draft Report and Order: Promoting Telehealth in Rural America


On August 1, 2019, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a Report and Order that reforms the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program to make the distribution of limited program funds more efficient and equitable, provide predictability and transparency for health care and service providers, and strengthen program safeguards against waste, fraud, and abuse. The reforms include changes to the distribution of funding the Telecommunications Program to promote efficiency and reduce incentives that encourage waste, fraud, and abuse. 

The reforms also target funding to rural areas most in need of health care services by: (1) prioritizing support based on rurality and whether the area is medically underserved when demand exceeds available funding; and (2) increasing the majority-rural requirement for Healthcare Connect Fund consortia each year that funding must be prioritized due to lack of available funding.  The FCC also adopted a series of Program-wide rules and procedures to simplify the application process for program participants and make the administration of the RHC Program more transparent and predicable.

Before the meeting, the FCC released a draft of the Report and Order here

Read more about the Order's changes to the program here

We will provide additional information about the Report and Order, including how changes to the current rules will be implemented, once the adopted Report and Order is released.  In the meantime, you may submit questions to the RHC Help Desk at RHC-Assist@usac.org.

8/2/2019RHC Newsletter for August 2019


FCC Adopts Draft Report and Order: Promoting Telehealth in Rural America
On August 1, 2019, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a Report and Order that reforms the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program to make the distribution of limited program funds more efficient and equitable, provide predictability and transparency for health care and service providers, and strengthen program safeguards against waste, fraud, and abuse. The reforms include changes to the distribution of funding the Telecommunications Program to promote efficiency and reduce incentives that encourage waste, fraud, and abuse. 

The reforms also target funding to rural areas most in need of health care services by: (1) prioritizing support based on rurality and whether the area is medically underserved when demand exceeds available funding; and (2) increasing the majority-rural requirement for Healthcare Connect Fund consortia each year that funding must be prioritized due to lack of available funding.  The FCC also adopted a series of Program-wide rules and procedures to simplify the application process for program participants and make the administration of the RHC Program more transparent and predicable.

Before the meeting, the FCC released a draft of the Report and Order here

We will provide additional information about the Report and Order, including how changes to the current rules will be implemented, once the adopted Report and Order is released.  In the meantime, you may submit questions to the RHC Help Desk at RHC-Assist@usac.org.

New! Initial RHC Program Data Set Available Now!
 We are very excited to announce the posting of the first RHC Program Dataset to the USAC Open Data Portal. The dataset contains data from the FCC Forms 462 and 466 about funding decisions, and total committed/disbursed amounts for past funding years. In the open data portal you are able to filter, sort, and visualize the data in many different ways. Watch a quick demonstration of a data visualization here.

Coming Soon! Letter of Agency (LOA) My Portal Functionality Enhancements
Within the next few weeks, My Portal will no longer allow consortia leaders to submit forms on behalf of health care provider (HCP) sites with expired LOAs. Account holders of the consortia will now receive automatic emails from My Portal when an LOA is about to expire. An updated LOA must be submitted before any FCC Forms can be submitted in My Portal. For instructions on how to submit an updated LOA, view the LOA submission guide.

Training Dates Announced
 In August and September, the RHC Program will host two online trainings for applicants:

  • August 14 at 2:00 p.m. ET– FY2019 Applicant Webinar: This webinar is for account holders who submitted FY2019 Funding Request forms (FCC Forms 462 and 466); it will include information on what to expect after form submission, best practices for information requests, and common applicant questions. Register here!
  • August 21 at 2:00 p.m. ET - Service Provider Training:  This webinar is for service providers and will cover best practices in the HCF and Telecom Programs. Register here!
  • September 12 at 2:00 p.m. ET – Consortia Best Practices for FY2020: This webinar is for those interested in forming a consortia and consortia account holders who are preparing for FY2020. The RHC Program team will go over general questions about forming and organizing a consortia and how to get ready for the Request for Services (FCC Forms 461 and 465) process. Register here!

?Coming Soon! RHC Website Updates
In mid-October, RHC will be refreshing the content on the RHC public website, usac.org/rhc. Our goal is to make information easier to find and understand for all applicants, and changes will include consolidating information and simplifying the content. Don’t worry! We will share more information about any changes before they happen. 


Important Reminders

Account Holder Guidance
Now that the FY2019 application filing window has closed, it is a great time to review your HCP’s account holders. USAC recommends having at least one secondary account holder per HCP. We’ve created guides for primary account holders with instructions for adding additional account holders in My Portal:

What to Do if You Receive an Information Request
USAC cannot complete their review of FCC Forms submitted with incomplete or missing documentation, and RHC reviewers will reach out to all account holders (the primary and all secondary and tertiary account holders associated with that HCP) with a request for additional information (“Information Request”). Information Requests are sent to collect any missing documentation, address deficiencies, or to ask clarifying questions about the FCC Form. If you receive an Information Request, you must respond to it within 14 calendar days. Failure to respond within the 14 calendar day timeframe will result in a denial of funding, so be sure to meet that deadline.

Information Request Tips for the Telecom Program

  • Applicants can receive Telecom Information Requests through My Portal OR by email
    • For Information Requests received through My Portal, applicants should respond through My Portal only
    • For email Information Requests, applicants should “Reply All” to respond to the Information Request
  • Use Chrome/Firefox Only when using My Portal
  • When uploading a document as a response, the document should be limited to 10MB, and the document name should not contain any special characters, only letters and numbers

Information Request Tips for the HCF Program

  • Applicants receive HCF Program Information Requests through email and should “Reply All” to respond to the Information Request. 

FCC Form 460 Best Practice
During the submission of an FCC Form 460 (HCF Eligibility and Registration Form), we recommend that applicants upload any supporting documentation necessary to validate form data to the “Supporting Documentation” section. This includes any documentation that is relevant to the required fields of the FCC Form 460. Doing so creates additional visibility into the HCP and increases the chance of a faster review. A few examples include:

  • Hospital licenses, with the address clearly posted, to verify a non-profit hospital
  • A recent bill or lease, with the address clearly posted, to verify the HCP address provided on the FCC Form 460
  • Public tax documents to verify the Non-Profit Tax ID (EIN)
  • Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) accreditation to verify a community health center

Please keep in mind that the FCC Form 460 review can take up to 30 days. You can submit your FCC Form 460 at any time during the funding year.

Filing an Appeal
Any party that wishes to appeal a USAC decision must file an appeal with USAC within 60 days of the date when USAC issued the decision. All appeals must be sent to RHC-Appeals@usac.org.  The following information must be included in the appeal:

  • Applicant or service provider who is filing the appeal (i.e. HCP number, service provider’s 498 ID (SPIN))
  • Contact information of the person who can discuss the appeal with USAC in detail  (include name, address, telephone number, and email address)
  • Documentation of USAC's decision (e.g., copy of USAC's decision letter being appealed)
  • Supporting documentation such as forms and previous correspondence with USAC
  • A precise explanation of the resolution sought through the appeal

USAC may reach out for additional information while reviewing your appeal, but failure to provide all of the information above within the 60 days may result in denial of your appeal. Parties seeking a waiver of FCC rules (e.g., waiver of deadlines) should file an appeal directly with the Commission as USAC cannot waive FCC rules.  For more information on filing appeals with USAC or the FCC, please visit the appeals page of the USAC website or contact us.

Consortia Resources
HCF Program applicants who may be interested in forming a consortia can download three new resources to help them get started:

Third Party Authorizations (TPAs) Must be Up to Date
In order to be considered eligible for funding in FY2019,  TPAs must be up to date through FY2019, at a minimum. Be especially mindful if you are an HCP using a consultant. Before submitting a form, please check to ensure your authorization documents are up to date. FCC Forms  submitted with expired  TPAs will result in applicants receiving Information Requests. Download a Sample TPA .

7/31/2019Upcoming Scheduled System Maintenance


Scheduled System Maintenance Tuesday, August 6

 

The National Verifier’s production environment will be unavailable for use starting Tuesday, August 6 from 8 p.m. until midnight ET.
 
During this maintenance window, users of NLAD’s National Verifier workflow will not be able to enroll, transfer, or update subscriber information in NLAD’s production environment. NLAD UI and API users can continue to access reports and perform de-enrollments during this time.

7/30/2019Lifeline Program July Newsletter


Representative Accountability Database (RAD) Updates


Beginning Tuesday, July 16, service providers were able to begin linking Representative IDs to accounts in the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) pre-production environment. Service providers should use the test Representative IDs to practice linking a Representative ID to existing and new user accounts.

In addition, service providers can test changes to the NLAD in the pre-production environment. These changes include:

  • The errors they or their subaccount users would experience when trying to submit a transaction with an inactive Representative ID;
  • The ability for API users to submit API transactions with a Representative ID. Transactions now include additional API fields to associate Representative IDs with individual NLAD transactions in pre-production;
  • Testing for the batch upload process, with the new fields noted above, will also be available.


Service providers can request the revised API Specifications (with the subject line RAD - NLAD API Specs) and/or batch file template (with the subject line RAD – Batch File) by contacting LifelineSupport@usac.org.


For more information on how to link existing and new user accounts to a Representative ID, review the July monthly webinar and attend our next Lifeline Program webinar on August 14.

National Verifier: New Enhancements Coming in August


USAC is excited to introduce new enhancements to the National Verifier (NV). The August 2019 updates focus on providing more visibility and accessibility to Service Providers and Consumers.

Improvements to the Application Visibility and Accessibility

The National Verifier will now:

  • Show recertifications to consumers from NV states on their consumer landing page
  • Provide information on the portal around when reverification applications will expire
  • Allow consumers who qualify through income to provide their household size while waiting for an eligibility response from a batch state
  • Allow consumers who have selected to view the portal in Spanish to print a Spanish application form

Recertifications on the Consumer Landing Page

Consumers from NV states going through the annual recertification process will now be able to log in to their consumer account and access their recertification forms on their consumer landing page.

In addition to the recertification forms, a consumer will now be able to see their recertification status.

  • If the consumer has not yet submitted a recertification form, a “Not Yet Recertified” status will appear.
  • If the consumer has successfully submitted recertification forms a “Recertified” status will be shown on the consumer landing page.
  • Recertification forms that are no longer active will display with an “Expired” status.
  • Forms that have been closed out will display with a “Closed” status.

Please note that consumers with open recertification forms will not be able to submit a qualification form.


Updated Batch Process: Allowing Applicants to Provide Household Size For Consumers who Qualify through Income and are in a Pending Batch Decision Status

Lifeline applications submitted in batch states (NC, TN, MO, and KY) that fail the federal data source check receive a “Pending Batch Decision” status. The applicant then waits 1-3 days to receive an eligibility response from the state.  Under the prior workflow, users could upload documents for all errors, including eligibility, but could not provide their household size if they qualify for Lifeline through income.

In August 2019, consumers in “Pending Batch Decision” status will be able to provide their household size when uploading eligibility documentation if they qualify through income.


Spanish Applications on the Portal

Consumers who choose to access the National Verifier portal in Spanish will be able to download and print Spanish paper application forms that can be mailed to the Lifeline Support Center. Spanish forms can be accessed by toggling to Spanish and then selecting the paper form link on the public landing page or the consumer login page.

Learn More

These and other enhancements will be introduced on August 7, 2019. Information on this release, as well as past releases is available on USAC's website.


Reminder: Lifeline Program Consumer Advocate Training


The federal Lifeline Program provides low-income consumers with a monthly discount on their phone or internet service. This is an important benefit that helps consumers stay connected to family, work, education, and health services.

With the implementation of the National Verifier, an innovative tool that allows consumers to apply directly for the Lifeline benefit, consumer information is verified against state and federal data connections, which normally results in a quicker eligibility decision and provides more ways for a consumer to apply (such as through a service provider, through the consumer portal, or via mail).

To educate social service agents, caseworkers, and other advocates on the Lifeline program, the National Verifier, and how to help their clients enroll, USAC is hosting a Consumer Advocate Training on Wednesday, July 31, 2019, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET. You and other interested consumer advocates can register for the training here.


Webinar on August 14: Representative Accountability Database (RAD) Office Hours 


Join us on Wednesday, August 14, for our next Lifeline Program webinar. The topic is the Representative Accountability Database (RAD). This will be in an Office Hours format. We will provide a general refresher on the RAD and an opportunity for service providers to ask questions. This session is designed for service providers and Lifeline stakeholders in all states and territories.

If you have specific questions for this webinar, please email them to Lifelineprogram@usac.org.

You can access the slides and recordings from previous webinars on our Learn: Webinars page.

7/26/2019Legacy System Outage


The Schools and Libraries (E-rate) Program legacy systems are temporarily unavailable. During this time, users may experience intermittent system issues and may be unable to file invoices and use some of the search tools. We apologize for any inconvenience.

 

NOTE: The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) is not affected by this outage.

7/26/2019News Brief Issued


The 7/26/2019 issue of the SL News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

7/25/2019WCB Announces Updates to Lifeline Minimum Service Standards and Indexed Budget Amount


On July 25, 2019, the Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) announced the updated minimum service standards for speed and usage allowances for Lifeline-supported services as required by the 2016 Lifeline Order. The 2016 Lifeline Order established minimum service standards for certain Lifeline-supported services and either established annual increases in those standards in the Commission’s rules or directed the Bureau to update the minimum service standards pursuant to calculations set out in the Order and the Commission’s rules.   

The newly calculated minimum service standards for fixed and mobile broadband will take effect on December 1, 2019.


Minimum service standards beginning December 1,2019:

  • Fixed broadband minimum service standards
    Speed: 20/3 Mbps, or at least 4/1 Mbps
    Usage Allowance: 1024 GB
  • Mobile broadband minimum service standards
    Speed:3G or better
    Usage Allowance: 8.75 GB
  • Mobile voice telephony minimum service standard
    Unchanged - 1000 Minutes

For more details regarding the minimum service standards update, please visit the FCC’s website.

7/25/2019Legacy System Outage Due to System Maintenance: July 26-27


The Schools and Libraries (E-rate) Program legacy systems will be unavailable from 9:00 p.m. EDT on Friday, July 26 through 9:00 a.m. EDT on Saturday, July 27 for system maintenance. During this time, users will be unable to file invoices and use some of the search tools. The BEAR training site will also be unavailable. We apologize for any inconvenience.

7/24/2019WCB Announces Conditional Forbearance From the Lifeline Voice Obligation


On July 22, 2019, the Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) announced the counties in which conditional forbearance from the obligation to offer Lifeline-supported voice service applies, pursuant to the Commission’s 2016 Lifeline Order.This forbearance applies only to the Lifeline voice obligation of eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) that are designated for purposes of receiving both high-cost and Lifeline support (high-cost/Lifeline ETCs), and not to Lifeline-only ETCs.

 

The Public Notice DA-19-689 lists the counties where the Commission’s conditional forbearance from high-cost/Lifeline ETCs’ Lifeline voice obligation will apply effectively on September 21, 2019.

 

For more details regarding conditional forberance, please visit the FCC’s website.

7/24/2019Resolved: E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: July 26


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and the EPC training site is back online. Thank you for your patience. 

7/24/2019E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: July 28-29


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and the EPC training site will be unavailable from Sunday, July 28 at 7:00 p.m EDT through Monday, July 29 at 1:00 a.m. EDT for monthly system maintenance. During this time, users will be unable to log in to and use EPC. We apologize for any inconvenience.

7/24/2019Reminder: Upcoming Scheduled System Maintenance


Reminder: Scheduled  System Maintenance, July 26

 

The National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD), National Verifier, and Lifeline Claims System (LCS) will be unavailable due to scheduled system maintenance starting on Friday, July 26 from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. ET. 

NLAD, National Verifier, and LCS pre-production and production environments will not be available for use during this time.

7/23/2019Initial RHC Program Open Dataset Available Now!


We are very excited to announce the posting of the first RHC Program Dataset to the USAC Open Data Portal. The dataset contains data from the FCC Forms 462 and 466 about funding decisions, and total committed/disbursed amounts for past funding years. In the open data portal you are able to filter, sort, and visualize the data in many different ways. Watch a quick demonstration of a data visualization here

7/19/2019EPC Training Site Funding Year Schedule


Trainers and other program participants can use USAC's E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) training site to practice filing forms, learn how to navigate the system, and train new users – all without affecting actual information and settings in the EPC production site. 

 

USAC is currently in the process of expanding the training site offerings to include consortium accounts and accounts that allow the FCC Form 486 to be filed. We must periodically reset the training site to Funding Year (FY) 2019 to accomplish this. 

 

Starting today, the EPC training site will be reset to FY2019 each week from 9:00 a.m. EDT Friday morning to 9:00 a.m. EDT Monday morning until further notice. When we are not working on creating FCC Form 486 filers, the training site will be reset to FY2020.

 

If you would like to conduct training or practice filing FY2020 FCC Forms 470, please schedule your training activities for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.

 

For more information on using the training site with the functionality that is currently available, you can refer to the EPC Training Site page.

7/19/2019News Brief Issued


The 7/19/2019 issue of the SL News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

7/17/2019Representative Accountability Database (RAD) Updates


Changes to NLAD Pre-Production

Beginning today, Wednesday, July 17, service providers may begin linking Representative IDs to accounts in the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) pre-production environment. Service providers should use the test Representative IDs provided by USAC to test linking a Representative ID to existing and new user accounts in pre-production. An NLAD Pre-Production Guide for Linking Representative IDs to Test Accounts, which includes the test Representative IDs, is available on USAC's website.

For questions about the NLAD Pre-Production Guide for Linking Representative IDs to Test Accounts, email LifelineSupport@usac.org with the subject line RAD - NLAD PreProd Guide.

Looking Ahead

Additional changes related to the continuing implementation of RAD will be available the week of July 29.

  1. Any new account created in the production environment will require a Representative ID.
  2. Service providers may begin linking a Representative ID to existing accounts in the production environment.
  3. Service providers may use the pre-production environment for testing the validations and errors related to a Representative ID during NLAD transactions. For example, service providers may test the errors that they would receive when trying to perform an enrollment with an account linked to a locked Representative ID. Services providers will also be able to test any errors that they could receive during an API or batch transaction related to the two new Representative ID fields.
  • With this release, service providers will receive an error when attempting a transaction in the pre-production environment that does not have a Representative ID linked.
  • Service providers who have yet to do so can request the revised API Specifications by contacting LifelineSupport@usac.org with the subject line RAD - NLAD API Specs. The revised subscriber batch file template is available on the RAD Resources page.


Upcoming RAD Office Hours

USAC is hosting RAD Office Hours today, Wednesday, July 17 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET. Service providers will receive a high-level overview of content previously discussed in training and have the opportunity to submit questions. Register for the upcoming office hours here.

For more information on RAD, visit USAC's RAD pages. 

7/12/2019News Brief Issued


The 7/12/2019 issue of the SL News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

7/12/2019FCC Issues NPRM on Category Two Budgets


The FCC has released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) (FCC 19-58, released July 9, 2019) that proposes to make the Category Two budget approach permanent, and also seeks comment on potential modifications that could simplify the budgets, decrease the administrative burden of applying for Category Two services, and thereby speed the deployment of Wi-Fi in schools and libraries across the country.

 

Comments on the NPRM are due 30 days after the publication of the NPRM in the Federal Register. Reply comments are due 45 days after publication of the NPRM in the Federal Register. To submit comments, follow the instructions in the Filing Comments and Reply Comments paragraph in the NPRM.

7/11/2019FCC Releases Draft Report and Order: Promoting Telehealth in America


On July 11, 2019, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released the Tentative Agenda for the August Open Meeting. In the Agenda, the Commission states that they will be considering a Report and Order regarding Promoting Telehealth in America. The Draft Report and Order would overhaul the Rural Health Care Program by streamlining and simplifying the way health care providers apply for and calculate universal service support amounts, promoting transparency and predictability in the program, and taking new steps to guard against waste, fraud, and abuse.

Read the Draft Report and Order here

The USAC Rural Health Care Program team will be communicating information about this FCC Report and Order. Please submit your questions to the RHC Help Desk at RHC-Assist@usac.org. 

7/11/2019FCC Seeks Comment On Proposed Connected Care Pilot Program


On July 11, 2019 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed to establish a three-year, $100 million Connected Care Pilot program that would support bringing telehealth services directly to low-income patients and veterans.

The proposed Connected Care Pilot would provide an 85% discount on connectivity for broadband-enabled telehealth services that connect patients directly to their doctors and are used to treat a wide range of health conditions. These services can facilitate the effective treatment of chronic conditions outside of the doctor’s office, at significant savings for patients and health care providers.

The proposed Pilot program would not divert resources from the existing Rural Health Care Program or any existing universal service fund programs. Instead, it is proposed that USAC would be required to separately collect on a quarterly basis the funds needed for the duration of the Pilot program

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) seeks comment on testing a new program, using the FCC’s existing Rural Health Care Program authority that would defray the costs of purchasing broadband Internet access service necessary for providing connected care services directly to low-income patients and veterans.

 

Read the NPRM here

7/10/2019Legacy System Outage Due to System Maintenance - July 11


The Schools and Libraries (E-rate) Program legacy systems will be unavailable from 9:00-11:30 p.m. EDT on Thursday, July 11 for system maintenance. During this time, users will be unable to file invoices and use some of the search tools. The BEAR training site will also be unavailable. We apologize for any inconvenience.

 

NOTE: The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) will not be affected by this maintenance.

7/3/2019RHC Newsletter for July 2019


Latest News

FY2019 Application Filing Window Closed
Thank you to all program participants who submitted forms for Funding Year 2019 (FY2019)! The FY2019 application filing window has now closed, and no additional funding request forms will be accepted. Your feedback and continued dedication to the program is always appreciated, and we look forward to working with all of you to continuously improve the RHC Program.

Coming Soon! RHC Website Updates
Over the next few months, RHC will be refreshing the content on the RHC public website, usac.org/rhc. Our goal is to make information easier to find and understand for all applicants, and changes will include consolidating information and simplifying the content. Don’t worry! We will share more information about any changes before they happen. 


Important Reminders

Account Holder Guidance
Now that the FY2019 application filing window has closed, it is a great time to review your health care provider's (HCP’s) account holders. USAC recommends having at least one secondary account holder per HCP. We’ve created guides for primary account holders with instructions for adding additional account holders in My Portal:

What to Do if You Receive an Information Request
USAC cannot complete their review of FCC Forms submitted with incomplete or missing documentation, and RHC reviewers will reach out to all account holders (the primary and all secondary and tertiary account holders associated with that HCP) with a request for additional information (“Information Request”). Information Requests are sent to collect any missing documentation, address deficiencies, or to ask clarifying questions about the FCC Form. If you receive an Information Request, you must respond to it within 14 calendar days. Failure to respond within the 14 calendar day timeframe will result in a denial of funding, so be sure to meet that deadline.

Information Request Tips for the Telecom Program

  • Applicants can receive Telecom Information Requests through My Portal OR by email
    • For Information Requests received through My Portal, applicants should respond through My Portal only
    • For email Information Requests, applicants should “Reply All” to respond to the Information Request
  • Use Chrome/Firefox Only when using My Portal
  • When uploading a document as a response, the document should be limited to 10MB, and the document name should not contain any special characters, only letters and numbers

Information Request Tips for the HCF Program

  • Applicants that receive HCF Program Information Requests through email and should “Reply All” to respond to the Information Request. 

FCC Form 460 Best Practice
During the submission of an FCC Form 460 (HCF Eligibility and Registration Form), we recommend that applicants upload any supporting documentation necessary to validate form data to the “Supporting Documentation” section. This includes any documentation that is relevant to the required fields of the FCC Form 460. Doing so creates additional visibility into the HCP and increases the chance of a faster review. A few examples include:

  • Hospital licenses, with the address clearly posted, to verify a non-profit hospital
  • A recent bill or lease, with the address clearly posted, to verify the HCP address provided on the FCC Form 460
  • Public tax documents to verify the Non-Profit Tax ID (EIN)
  • Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) accreditation to verify a community health center

Please keep in mind that the FCC Form 460 review can take up to 30 days. You can submit your FCC Form 460 at any time during the funding year.

Filing an Appeal
Any party that wishes to appeal a USAC decision must file an appeal with USAC within 60 days of the date when USAC issued the decision. All appeals must be sent to RHC-Appeals@usac.org.  The following information must be included in the appeal:

  • Applicant or service provider who is filing the appeal (i.e. HCP number, service provider’s 498 ID (SPIN))
  • Contact information of the person who can discuss the appeal with USAC in detail  (include name, address, telephone number, and email address)
  • Documentation of USAC's decision (e.g., copy of USAC's decision letter being appealed)
  • Supporting documentation such as forms and previous correspondence with USAC
  • A precise explanation of the resolution sought through the appeal

USAC may reach out for additional information while reviewing your appeal, but failure to provide all of the information above within the 60 days may result in denial of your appeal. Parties seeking a waiver of FCC rules (e.g., waiver of deadlines) should file an appeal directly with the Commission as USAC cannot waive FCC rules.  For more information on filing appeals with USAC or the FCC, please visit the appeals page of the USAC website or contact us.

Consortia Resources
HCF Program applicants who may be interested in forming a consortia can download three new resources to help them get started:

LOA/TPAs Must be Up to Date
In order to be considered eligible for funding in FY2019, Letters of Agency (LOA) and Third Party Authorizations (TPA) must be up to date through FY2019, at a minimum. Be especially mindful if you are an HCP using a consultant, a consortium leader, or a consultant filing on behalf of a consortium leader. Before submitting a form, please check to ensure your authorization documents are up to date. FCC Forms 462 and 466 submitted with expired LOAs or TPAs will result in applicants receiving Information Requests.

For more information about submitting LOAs, please see the submission guide

7/2/2019Lifeline Program June Newsletter


National Verifier Fully Launches in March 2019 Launch States

The National Verifier fully launched in Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan on Tuesday, June 11, 2019.
 
Service providers in these states are now required to use the National Verifier to check the eligibility of all Lifeline applicants before enrolling them into the Lifeline program. Consumers in these states can apply for Lifeline directly through the National Verifier online consumer portal or by mailing a paper application to the Lifeline Support Center.


National Verifier Soft Launches in 11 Additional States – June 2019 Soft Launch


The National Verifier soft launched in the following states on Tuesday, June 25.

  • Arizona
  • Connecticut
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia


Service providers in the June 2019 soft launch states can initiate eligibility checks using the National Verifier service provider portal or by sending paper forms  and eligibility documentation to the Lifeline Support Center.
 
During the soft launch period, service providers can continue using their legacy eligibility checking procedures if they choose. Training opportunities for this launch can be found on USAC’s website.


June 2019 Enhancements Live in National Verifier on June 25


On Tuesday, June 25, USAC released new enhancements to the National Verifier portal. The June 2019 updates focus on streamlining the application workflow, including address verification.
 
Additional details regarding the National Verifier v7.0 Production Release Notes for the June 2019 enhancements can be found on USAC's website.
 
To learn more about Lifeline and the National Verifier, visit USAC's National Verifier page.


Program Integrity Efforts and Reminders


Though USAC tries to minimize documentation requests for audit, Program Quality Assurance (PQA), and Program Integrity reviews whenever possible, service providers may still receive multiple documentation requests from USAC for the various audit and program integrity reviews. To better understand USAC’s program integrity efforts and the difference between program integrity reviews, beneficiary audits, and PQAs, review USAC’s Program Integrity page.

The best way to prepare for any program integrity request is to ensure that you are following Lifeline’s program document retention requirements. Lifeline service providers are required to keep records of their compliance with all state and FCC rules (47 C.F.R. §§ 54.417, 54.410).

Service providers that do business in states where the National Verifier has not yet launched (that are still handling eligibility determinations) and service providers electing to use their legacy eligibility determination processes in states where the National Verifier has soft launched are responsible for determining consumer eligibility and must have paper or electronic copies of their consumer’s application packet, including:

  • Application forms and proof of eligibility, and
  • Household worksheet, ID, and/or proof of address (if applicable).


Service providers must keep the required documentation for as long as the subscriber receives Lifeline service from that service provider, but for no less than the three full preceding calendar years.

Service providers are responsible for complying with the document retention requirements established in 47 C.F.R. § 54.410.

For more information on documentation requirements, review sections 54.410 and 54.417 of the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) here.

Reminder: June NLAD Release

 

Updates to BQP Information

 

As of Thursday, June 13, any changes to Benefit Qualifying Person (BQP) information require a de-enroll and re-enroll. If a Lifeline consumer needs to edit, remove, or add BQP information, they will need to:

  1. Inform their service provider so that their service provider can de-enroll them,
  2. Re-apply with the updated BQP information, and
  3. Inform their service provider once they have successfully re-applied.


Once notified, their service provider can re-enroll them in the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD). Please note this change applies to all BQP information, regardless of if the consumer applied through the National Verifier or legacy workflow.

Changes to NLAD Address Field


After receiving feedback from service providers, USAC has updated the mailing address field for consumers in NLAD. With this release, service providers can input a general delivery address for a consumer into the mailing address field.  USAC is committed to collecting the best information possible to ensure all consumers receive timely notification of recertification, reverification, and other Lifeline Program processes.

You can review the “Mailing Address” field below.

Representative Accountability Database (RAD) Reminders


Phase 1 Implementation: Adoption Period


On Tuesday, June 25, USAC launched the Representative Accountability Database (RAD). The first phase of implementation, or the Adoption Period, opens the registration process for existing service provider representatives to start registering for their Representative IDs. In preparation for the Adoption Period, USAC hosted a RAD Registration training during the June monthly webinar. You can review the slide deck on the Lifeline Learn page.


Phase 2 Implementation: Linking Accounts


The next phase of the RAD Adoption Period is expected to begin in late July. At that time, any new account created for accessing the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) or the National Verifier will require a Representative ID. Service providers will also have the opportunity to begin linking a Representative ID to existing accounts. More information on how service providers link Representative IDs to a representative’s NLAD and National Verifier accounts will be included in the July monthly webinar.

Service providers should begin planning to incorporate these changes into their business processes in anticipation of the full launch of RAD in fourth quarter 2019.


NLAD API Specification Changes


Beginning in fourth quarter 2019, transactions submitted to the National Verifier and NLAD will be associated with a Representative ID. The NLAD API Specifications will be updated to account for this change. To receive the revised NLAD API Specification, email LifelineSupport@usac.org with the subject line: RAD - NLAD API Specs.

Please note that only service providers that use the NLAD API will need the updated NLAD API Specifications.

July Monthly Webinar: The Representative Accountability Database (RAD): Linking Accounts

Join us on Wednesday, July 10, for our next Lifeline Program webinar. During this webinar, we will discuss the second phase of the RAD implementation. We will give an overview of the system and discuss the process to link Representative IDs to respective service providers. Once we share our material, we will take provider questions.

This session is designed for service providers and Lifeline stakeholders in all states and territories. You can access the slides and recordings from previous webinars on our Learn: Webinars page.

6/28/2019News Brief Issued


The 6/28/2019 issue of the SL News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

6/27/2019Extended FY2019 Filing Window Closes this Sunday


The extended FY2019 filing window period for health care providers (HCPs) in the HCF Program affected by FCC Order 19-45 closes in 3 days on Sunday, June 30! This means that you must submit your funding requests (FCC Form 462) before 11:59 p.m. ET June 30, 2019 to be considered for RHC Program support for FY2019. Any funding requests submitted after this time will not be considered. Please keep in mind that this deadline falls on a weekend.

6/26/2019E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) Outage Due to System Maintenance: June 30-July 1


The E-rate Productivity Center (EPC) and the EPC training site will be unavailable from Sunday, June 30 at 7:00 p.m EDT through Monday, July 1 at 1:00 a.m. EDT for monthly system maintenance. During this time, users will be unable to log in to and use EPC. We apologize for any inconvenience.

 

6/25/2019RAD Launches Today, Tuesday, June 25


RAD Adoption Period Open Today

Beginning today, Tuesday, June 25, representatives can register for a Representative ID by going to LifelineRAD.org. Representatives can access the RAD website, where they will go to self-register, via USAC’s website.

For more information on the Representative Accountability Database (RAD) registration process:


6/25/2019USAC Seeks Contractor for RHC Business and Operations Assessment


The Universal Service Administrative Company is seeking a contractor to conduct a business process and systems requirements analysis that would ensure that RHC application systems meet the needs of the Rural Health Care business. As a part of this project USAC also expects the Contractor to conduct an operational assessment of the program, and make a recommendation on the potential for optimizing the program activities through alternatives such as outsourcing or out tasking.

Read more about the procurement here.  

6/25/2019National Verifier and NLAD Systems Notification


Connectivity Restored

Connectivity to the National Verifier and the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) is restored. We have been monitoring the issue closely and were able to stabilize the systems.

Users should now be able to perform all transactions successfully. If you continue to experience issues, please email NLADsupport@usac.org.

6/24/2019USAC Announces RAD


RAD Adoption Period Opens Tomorrow

The Representative Accountability Database (RAD) will launch tomorrow, Tuesday, June 25. Beginning June 25, the RAD Adoption Period will open, allowing representatives who perform Lifeline enrollments and other related transactions to register for their Representative ID. USAC will send a bulletin tomorrow notifying service providers that the link to the RAD website, where representatives will go to self-register, is live and available.

USAC asks that service providers inform their representatives of this requirement.

Next Steps

The next phase of the RAD Adoption Period is expected to begin in late July. At that time, any new account created for accessing the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) or the National Verifier will require a Representative ID. Carriers will also have the opportunity to begin linking a Representative ID to existing accounts. More information on how service providers link Representative IDs to a representative’s NLAD and National Verifier accounts will be included in the July monthly webinar.

At the same time that the process for linking a Representative ID to accounts becomes available in the NLAD pre-production and production environments, USAC will release changes to pre-production that include requiring a Representative ID for all transactions submitted using the UI or API. More information on this will also be provided during the July monthly webinar.

Service providers should begin planning to incorporate these system changes into their business processes in anticipation of the full launch of RAD in the fourth quarter of 2019.

RAD Overview

RAD is a new registration system that will allow service provider representatives to obtain a unique ID.

Once the next phase of RAD deployment begins in late July, service provider representatives will provide their unique ID to all eligible telecommunications carriers (ETC) that they support. ETCs will then link these unique IDs to appropriate NLAD and National Verifier accounts. USAC will then be able to use this ID to track a representative’s transactions in the NLAD and National Verifier. 

 

  • Transactions will be monitored for potentially fraudulent activity.
  • A unique identifier will give USAC the ability to revoke access to its systems for individual users suspected of fraudulent activity.


The list below outlines who will need to register for a Representative ID:


  • Individuals directly interfacing with potential subscribers to enroll them in Lifeline
  • Immediate supervisors of individuals directly interacting with potential subscribers to complete Lifeline enrollments
  • Individuals that contract directly with ETCs and oversee or manage several teams of people working to complete Lifeline enrollments (Master Agents)
  • Individuals that either assist subscribers with recertification or prepare subscriber information for recertification and submission to the NLAD and National Verifier
  • Customer service representatives that update PII for existing Lifeline subscribers
  • Back office individuals that conduct manual eligibility reviews of subscriber enrollment or recertification information that is initially submitted through an electronic system, e.g., an online portal, ETC billing system

 

RAD Registration Resources


  • Service providers and their representatives can find more information about RAD and how representatives can resolve identity errors on USAC’s website. Please note that the content on USAC’s website for representatives and how they can resolve identity errors is for representatives that do business in the United States. Information for representatives that are employed outside of the United States will be provided shortly.
  • Service providers and their representatives can review June’s monthly webinar on the registration process here.
  • USAC is hosting two office hours to help service providers adjust to the new system on:
          - Monday, July 1 from 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. ET (register here)
          - Wednesday, July 17 from 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. ET (register here

6/21/2019News Brief Issued


The 6/21/2019 issue of the SL News Brief is now available. Receive E-rate Program tips, deadline reminders, and answers to your questions in this weekly newsletter. Subscribe to it and receive it each week in your inbox.

12/14/2018498 ID Status Tool - ISSUE RESOLVED


The 498 Status Tool is now operational.

Visit this webpage to use the 498 Status Tool.