Iowa Rural Health Telecommunications Program
The Iowa Rural Health Telecommunications Program (IRHTP) is a joint effort of a consortium of 85 Iowa rural and urban hospitals, two South Dakota hospitals, one Nebraska hospital, the Iowa Hospital Association (IHA) and the Iowa Communications Network (ICN). The program's purpose is to connect willing Iowa hospitals to a dedicated broadband fiber network using the ICN infrastructure.
In May 2007, IHA submitted the IRHTP proposal on behalf of Iowa hospitals to the Federal Communications Commission. The proposal was to provide last-mile fiber connections for members of the consortium by linking them to the closest appropriate ICN Point of Presence with one gigabit of ethernet electronics.
IHA is responsible for the general project administration and management. This includes:
- Meeting logistics for the IRHTP board of directors.
- Project coordination for the IRHTP.
- Management of the administrative aspects of the approved network.
- Complete and submit program forms and supporting documentation.
- Universal Service Administrative Company payment management.
- Primary point of contact for the IRHTP.
- Communication of requests and requirements to participating entities.
- Administrative project documentation.
- Maintenance of project files
- Audit preparation.
- The IRHTP Board saw some transition as longstanding board member Fred Eastman retired and board chair Brian Sims departed for life in the mountains in Oregon. Matt Sells, CEO of Shenandoah Medical Center, transitioned to the board chair position, and we welcomed Veronica Fuhs, CEO, Monroe Hospital & Clinics and Davis County Hospital & Clinics, Bryan Hunger, CEO, Jefferson County Health Center and Roger Wilson, IT Site Manager for MercyOne Des Moines to the board.
- USAC reimbursements for the FY19 (July 2019-June 2020) were received and distributed to members in December.
- IRHTP partnered with FG Fiberutilities to assist hospitals file with USAC for IT expenses outside of the view of IRHTP and ICN as our service provider. This partnership has proven to be quite successful four our early adopters. One hospital received an additional $80,000 in USAC reimbursements. We are excited to see this partnership grow to additional locations.
- USAC is currently reviewing and approving the FY20 (July 2020-June 2021). This approval is taking much longer than in year's past but is not surprising given the shift in work that the pandemic has created for USAC.
- FY22 (July 2021-June 2022) USAC reimbursement requests are currently being filed. The window to request funds has been extended to June 1, 2021.
- Your facility has the option to pay your IRHTP invoices via ACH. If you are need to view an invoice log in to www.ihaonline.org, click My Account, then My Invoices and you can select an invoice to view or print. This works best in the Google Chrome browser. If you have any questions regarding your invoice, or updates as to who should be receiving the invoice notices email, please contact Clara Stults.
- The 2021 Legislative Session is currently taking place and broadband and telecommunications has become a major talking point. We are watching the following topics with great interest:
- House File 612 was introduced this week by House Democrats. This bill provides telehealth payment parity for mental health and physical health visits. This bill is similar to the bill put forward last year and is a step further than the bill already passed in the House that only covers telehealth reimbursement for mental health.
- Senate Study Bill 1089 – This legislation pertains to the expansion of broadband service and includes updated requirements for the Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grant Fund. This bill was reviewed in a subcommittee this week, and the committee decided to meet again for further discussion on the bill. IHA will continue to monitor this legislation.
- House Study Bill 232 - Allows the ITTC to do billing for authorized users and charge users who receive services from an authorized user of the ICN if such services are within the mission of the authorized user and within the limitations on the authorized user in Code.
Email Corey Martin to be added to the quarterly IRHTP newsletter if you are not already on the mailing list.
- Kent Sona, Chief Information Officer, Nebraska Methodist Health System
- Scott O’Farrell, Vice President, IT Technical Services, Avera Health
- Lee Carmen, VP of Information Services, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
- Jeff Cash, Senior VP and CIO, Mercy Medical Center – Cedar Rapids
- Robert Frieden, VP of Info Services and CIO, Genesis Health System
- Veronica Fuhs, Chief Executive Officer, Monroe and Davis County Hospitals and Clinics
- Bryan Hunger, Chief Executive Officer, Jefferson County Health Center
- Matt Sells, Chief Executive Officer, Shenandoah Medical Center
- Daryl Bouma, Chief Technology Officer, Sanford Health
- Roger Wilson, Interim Site Director, IT, MercyOne
- Gary Davis, VP of IT, Iowa Hospital Association