The FCC has proposed fining rural healthcare communications provider DataConnex over $18.7 million for obtaining millions in Universal Service Fund subsidies to which it was not entitled via an "apparently tainted" competitive bidding process.
The vote was unanimous and is the second rural healthcare program NAL in the past year. It is only a notice of apparently liability, but if the FCC confirms that finding after the company has a chance to respond, the fine will be levied.
The FCC alleges that the DataConnex, a Mississippi and Alabama-based telecom services company forged documents, misrepresented price information, flaunted bidding rules, and colluded with another company to influence the bidding.
The Rural Health Care Program "seeks to improve the quality of health care available to patients in rural communities by ensuring that eligible providers have access to telecommunications and broadband services."
The FCC voted last month to take steps to rein in fraud and waste in the rural healthcare communications subsidy program.
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