Skip Navigation

Federal Communications Commission

English Display Options

Commission Document

Indian Health Service, White Swan Health Station, White Swan, WA

Download Options

Released: March 11, 2014

Federal Communications Commission

DA 14-335

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)

Request for Review
)
)

Indian Health Service/Portland Area,
) File No. RHCP 16966
White Swan Health Station
)
)

Rural Health Care Universal Service
)
WC Docket No. 02-60
Support Mechanism
)

ORDER

Adopted: March 11, 2014


Released: March 11, 2014

By the Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau:

I. INTRODUCTION

1.
In this Order, we deny an appeal of a Universal Service Administrative Company
(USAC) decision in which USAC denied Indian Health Service/Portland Area, White Swan Health
Station (IHS/White Swan) Funding Year (FY) 2011 support for discounted services under the rural health
care (RHC) universal service support mechanism.1 We affirm USAC’s conclusion that IHS/White Swan
is located in a non-rural area and therefore is ineligible to receive universal service support under the
RHC Telecommunications and Internet Access programs.2

II. BACKGROUND

2.
Under the RHC Telecommunications and Internet Access programs, eligible rural health
care providers (HCPs) and consortia that include eligible rural HCPs may apply for discounts for eligible
telecommunications services and Internet access.3 To obtain discounted service, applicants must make a
request for Telecommunications and/or Internet Access services by filing an FCC Form 465 with USAC.4
HCPs must meet two criteria to be eligible for support under the RHC Telecommunications and Internet
Access programs: 1) an HCP must fall within one of the categories listed in the Commission’s definition


1 Letter from George T. Huggins, Indian Health Service, to Secretary, Federal Communications Commission, WC
Docket No. 02-60 (filed Dec. 1, 2011) (IHS/White Swan Appeal). Section 54.719(c) of the Commission’s rules
provides that any person aggrieved by an action taken by a division of USAC may seek review from the
Commission. 47 C.F.R. § 54.719(c).
2 See 47 U.S.C. §§ 254(h)(1)(A), (h)(2)(A); 47 C.F.R. § 54.600(b)(1) (2013). See also 47 C.F.R. § 54.5 (2012).
3 47 U.S.C. §§ 254(h)(1)(A), (h)(2)(A); 47 C.F.R. §§ 54.600(a), (b), (c), 54.601(a), 54.602(a), 54.604(a) (2013). See
also
47 C.F.R. §§ 54.601(a), (b) (2012).
4 47 C.F.R. § 54.603(b).

Federal Communications Commission

DA 14-335

of “health care provider”;5 and 2) an HCP must be located in a “rural area.”6 For purposes of the RHC
universal service support programs, the Commission defines “rural area” as:
[A]n area that is entirely outside of a Core Based Statistical Area; is within a Core
Based Statistical Area that does not have any Urban Area with a population of 25,000
or greater; or is in a Core Based Statistical Area that contains an Urban Area with a
population of 25,000 or greater, but is within a specific census tract that itself does not
contain any part of a Place or Urban Area with a population of greater than 25,000.7
HCPs can determine if they are located in an eligible rural area under the Commission’s definition by
using the Eligible Rural Areas Search “look-up table” on USAC’s Rural Health Care website.8
3.
On September 21, 2011, IHS/White Swan filed its FY 2011 FCC Form 465, requesting
support for both telecommunications and Internet services.9 On October 3, 2011, USAC informed
IHS/White Swan that IHS/White Swan is located in a non-rural area and therefore ineligible for RHC
support under the Telecommunications and Internet Access programs.10 On December 1, 2011,
IHS/White Swan appealed USAC’s decision to the Commission.11
4.
In its appeal, IHS/White Swan acknowledges that IHS/White Swan’s location on Yakama
Indian Reservation within Yakima County, Washington, is non-rural under the Commission’s definition
of rural area.12 IHS/White Swan argues that, despite this, its location in White Swan, Washington should
be designated rural because it possesses many characteristics associated with rural areas.13 Specifically,
IHS/White Swan notes that its location is sparsely populated; lacks improved roads and access to most of
its land; is 31 miles from the nearest city; and suffers from high unemployment.14 Additionally,
IHS/White Swan suggests that it should be eligible for RHC support because IHS’s Yakama Health
Center in Toppenish, Washington is eligible for RHC support. In defense of this suggestion, IHS/White
Swan states that Toppenish is less remote and has a higher population than White Swan.15 Finally,
IHS/White Swan argues that, as an HCP providing health care to remotely-located Tribal patients, it


5 See 47 C.F.R. § 54.600(a) (2013) (previously found at 47 C.F.R. § 54.601(a)).
6 47 C.F.R. § 54.600(b)(1) (2013). Prior to 2013, the Commission’s definition of “rural” for purposes of the RHC
programs was found at 47 C.F.R. § 54.5.
7 47 C.F.R. § 54.600(b)(1) (2013).
8 See USAC, Rural Health Care, Eligible Rural Areas Search,
http://www.usac.org/rhc/telecommunications/tools/Rural/search/search.asp (last visited March 10, 2014).
9 FCC Form 465, IHS/White Swan Health Station (filed Sept. 21, 2011). On its FCC Form 465, IHS/White Swan
notes its physical location as 514 Signal Peak Rd., White Swan, WA, 98952. Id.
10 Letter from USAC, Rural Health Care Division, to Renita Curtis, Indian Health Service Office of Information
Technology (dated Oct. 3, 2011).
11 IHS/White Swan Appeal.
12 Id. at 1.
13 Id.
14 Id.
15 Id. at 2.
2

Federal Communications Commission

DA 14-335

needs RHC support to “offset the cost of health-related telecommunications services and upgrade future
telecommunication services.”16

III. DISCUSSION

5.
We affirm USAC’s conclusion that because IHS/White Swan’s location is non-rural, it is
not eligible to receive support in the Telecommunications and Internet Access programs. As explained
above, the Commission defines “rural area” for the RHC programs in section 54.600(b)(1) of its rules.17
IHS/White Swan acknowledges that it is not located within a rural area under the Commission’s
definition.18
6.
While IHS/White Swan’s location may possess characteristics associated with rural areas,
it is not considered “rural” under the Commission’s definition, and therefore is ineligible for support
under the RHC Telecommunications and Internet Access programs, which provide support only to “rural”
HCPs.19 As the Commission explained in its 2012 Healthcare Connect Fund Order, its “longstanding
definition of ‘non-rural’ HCPs encompasses a wide range of locales, ranging from large cities to small
towns surrounded by rural countryside.”20 The Commission further noted that “[m]any HCPs that are
technically classified as non-rural within [its] rules in fact are located in relatively sparsely populated
areas.”21 The Commission nevertheless recognized that such sites are considered “non-rural” under its
rules.22 It did, however, allow eligible non-rural HCPs to participate as part of a consortium in the new
Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF), as long as a majority of the HCP sites in the consortium are “rural.”23
The Commission included “non-rural” sites in the new program partly in recognition that many sites
classified as “non-rural” under the RHC rules have characteristics similar to “rural” areas – as IHS/White
Swan claims of its location.24
7.
IHS/White Swan also points out that another health care provider, Yakama Health Center
in Toppenish, Washington, is eligible for RHC support yet appears less rural than IHS/White Swan.


16 Id.
17 See supra para. 2.
18 See IHS/White Swan Appeal at 1.
19 47 C.F.R. § 54.602(a) (2013) (restricting support in the Telecommunications Program to “rural health care
providers”); 47 C.F.R. § 54.601(a) (2012) (restricting support in the Telecommunications and Internet Access
programs to “rural health care providers” prior to 2013); 47 C.F.R. § 54.600(b)(1) (defining “rural”). See also 47
U.S.C. § 254(h)(1)(A) (providing support to “any public or nonprofit health care provider that serves persons that
reside in rural areas”).
20 Rural Health Care Support Mechanism, WC Docket No. 02-60, Report and Order, 27 FCC Rcd 16678, 16706,
para. 60 (2012) (Healthcare Connect Fund Order).
21 Id.
22 See id.
23 See id. at 16705-07, paras. 59-61. We note that the Internet Access Program will continue only through FY2013,
as participants transition to the HCF, which provides a much higher (65 percent) discount for Internet Access, and
for which funding was available beginning January 2014. Id. at 16699-700, 16814-15, paras. 46, 342. The
Telecommunications Program will remain in place, but the Commission expects significant migration of HCPs from
the Telecommunications Program to the HCF due to the many advantages of HCF. Id. at 16814-15, para. 342.
24 See id. at 16705-07, para. 60.
3

Federal Communications Commission

DA 14-335

IHS/White Swan states that it therefore also should be eligible for support.25 As discussed above, the
Commission’s definition of “non-rural” encompasses a wide range of places and, as such, it is not always
obvious which locations are “rural” and “non-rural.”26 Accordingly, RHC program applicants can use the
“look-up table” noted above to quickly determine whether their location is “rural” or “non-rural” under
the Commission’s definition.27
8.
We recognize that Tribal communities, such as that served by IHS/White Swan, are often
in need of basic modern telecommunications services, and could benefit greatly from RHC support, as
IHS/White Swan points out. IHS/White Swan contends that because of this community need, it should be
deemed “rural” and thus eligible for support under the RHC Telecommunications and Internet Access
programs.28 However, as discussed above, only those HCPs meeting the Commission’s definition of
“rural” are eligible for support in these two programs.29

IV. ORDERING CLAUSES

9.
ACCORDINGLY, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to the authority contained in sections
1-4 and 254 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 151-154 and 254, and
sections 0.91, 0.291 and 54.722(a) of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.91, 0.291 and 54.722(a), the
appeal filed by Indian Health Service/Portland Area, White Swan Health Station on December 1, 2011, IS
DENIED.
10.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to section 1.102(b)(1) of the Commission’s
rules, 47 C.F.R. § 1.102(b)(1), this order SHALL BE EFFECTIVE upon release.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Julie A. Veach
Chief
Wireline Competition Bureau


25 See IHS/White Swan Appeal at 2.
26 See supra para. 6.
27 See supra n.8 and accompanying text.
28 See IHS/White Swan Appeal at 2.
29 See supra para. 2.
4

Note: We are currently transitioning our documents into web compatible formats for easier reading. We have done our best to supply this content to you in a presentable form, but there may be some formatting issues while we improve the technology. The original version of the document is available as a PDF, Word Document, or as plain text.

close
FCC

You are leaving the FCC website

You are about to leave the FCC website and visit a third-party, non-governmental website that the FCC does not maintain or control. The FCC does not endorse any product or service, and is not responsible for, nor can it guarantee the validity or timeliness of the content on the page you are about to visit. Additionally, the privacy policies of this third-party page may differ from those of the FCC.