Charter Communications filed comments to the FCC today to let the agency know that the cable company is a big fan—huge fan—of its proposal to promote telehealth services in rural communities.
However, Charter wants to make sure the FCC doesn’t impose regulations on cable providers while executing the plan.
“As an RHC [rural health care] program service provider, Charter has seen firsthand how the RHC Program has been a vital tool in supporting rural healthcare providers’ access to modern communications services and enabling telemedicine,” Charter said in its filing. And “Charter agrees with NCTA – The Internet & Television Association that there are steps that the Commission should adopt to ensure that the RHC Program is administered as efficiently as possible and that funding is used responsibly, appropriately, and effectively.
Of course, the cable operator is hoping the Republican-led commission holds true to its current “light-touch” philosophies here.
“The Commission should not, however, adopt any reforms that would impose new burdens on service providers, especially where there is no indication that doing so would improve RHC Program efficiency or effectiveness,” Charter added.
“Eliminating burdens that deter healthcare providers and service providers from participating in the Program will ensure that scarce universal service dollars are used to increase telemedicine availability for consumers, and that a wider variety of service offerings is available at more cost-effective prices. These changes will build on the tremendous success of the RHC program,” the cable company said.
Under the direction of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, the agency is calling for a review of its Rural Health Care Program, which is intended to support access to vital telehealth services in rural communities. Pai said the current RHC program rules allow for inefficient use of funds and create opportunities for waste, fraud and abuse.
In January, the FCC outlined its proposed changes to the Rural Health Care Program (RHCP) in a notice posted to the Federal Register and requested industry input on how to raise the program's current cap of $400 million.