How do I become a registered vendor for the Specialized Telecommunications Assistance Program (STAP)?
Solix Inc. is the contractor responsible for registering and reimbursing vendors. Interested vendors must complete and submit the STAP online vendor registration with Solix—STAP Processing.
After the online vendor registration is complete and application and bank routing information have been reviewed, the vendor will receive an email from Solix indicating either an approved status and start date or a denied status and the reason for the denial.
How will I be reimbursed for a voucher?
Solix processes payments through direct deposit to a vendor's bank accounts. STAP vendors must send all exchanged vouchers to Solix for authorization of reimbursement.
A voucher received by Solix must be signed by the vendor and the voucher recipient; the dates should clearly show that the product and voucher were exchanged at the same time. A copy of the sales receipt must accompany the voucher.
The receipt must have the following information:
- Cost of the item
- Description and type of the equipment or services sold
- Date of the transaction
- Brand and model number
- Serial number (required for 2-way pagers only)
Vendors will be reimbursed for either the face value of the voucher or the sales price of the equipment, whichever is less. Reimbursements are made electronically by electronic funds transfer to the vendor's bank. There will be no checks. Payment will be made within 45 days of receipt of all required voucher information. However, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) may authorize Solix to withhold payment of a voucher if there is a dispute between the recipient and the vendor regarding the equipment or services.
I work with a distributor or manufacturer, so the STAP products are mailed directly to the voucher recipients. Because I do not have STAP products on display or in stock, is this permitted?
Yes, but it is highly recommended that the distributor or manufacturer mail all STAP devices to vendors so that when the voucher is exchanged the vendor can ensure the customer is given written instructions and understands how to operate the device.
It also is highly recommended that vendors have a variety of STAP products (including the most popular types) on display to explain the features and benefits of different products and enable consumers to test and identify the model which is most beneficial for them.
In all cases, a signature is required as proof of delivery. See below for more information.
If the STAP product is sent by mail (online or catalog ordering), how do I make sure I get the recipient's signature?
Vendors that ship devices to a voucher recipient must use a delivery method that requires a delivery signature when the authorized device is received by the designated recipient. A person who has guardianship of or power of attorney for the voucher recipient may sign the proof of delivery form when the device is received.
If the delivery service is unable to get an acceptable delivery signature, the service will not deliver the STAP product and may give the voucher recipient several (usually 3) opportunities to receive the package at home or may leave instructions for the voucher recipient or parent or guardian to pick up the product. If the delivery service is unable to obtain a delivery signature, the device will be mailed back to the vendor.
A customer exchanged a voucher for a more expensive product and paid the cost difference with a check. The check bounced and the customer is not cooperating with me and will not return the product. Will HHSC help me resolve this problem?
HHSC is unable to assist in this matter.
I am a vendor and I have a qualifying disability. Am I permitted to apply for a STAP voucher?
What devices are reimbursed by the Universal Services Fund (USF)?
Only devices that meet the criteria of the vouchers as listed on the application will be reimbursed by the USF. It is important that devices sold to consumers are correctly identified and noted on the voucher and receipt. Failure to do so may delay reimbursement.
The PUC also publishes a list of some devices that qualify under each category. This list includes both devices that were previously purchased by STAP voucher recipients as well as new devices determined by STAP staff to be eligible for purchase based on the new devices features. This list is updated regularly. Individuals may contact HHSC regarding devices that are not on the list that may also qualify.
Keep in mind that these types of devices are not taxable because they are considered to be medical equipment. Also, the voucher will not pay for items such as shipping and handling, batteries, carrying cases, extra paper, etc. Such items are to be paid for by the customer. Please contact the Solix if you are uncertain whether items are reimbursable.
PUC Substantive Rule 26.415, which now is enforceable by HHSC, provides guidelines to facilitate the payment of vendors who have accepted a voucher issued for the purchase of STAP devices or services.
I see that a 2-way pager is part of the STAP approved product list. I'd like to sell pagers. How do I do that?
The decision is yours as to how you want to conduct this type of business. However, it is strongly suggested that vendors wishing to sell pagers secure a license or agreement with the wireless provider. With an agreement or license, vendors can take advantage of tools offered by the wireless provider and better facilitate the voucher process.
If you do secure a License Agreement, Solix will designate a vendor listing on the website as a licensed pager retailer/reseller so that the voucher recipients looking for a pager dealer will know if the vendor is licensed or not.
One recurring problem with 2-way pagers is the credit check of the voucher recipient. If the recipient's credit rating is not good, often the service is not activated until a deposit is paid, which leaves the voucher recipient with a pager without service. This often leads to the recipient trying to return the pager to the vendor. It is strongly suggested that before a vendor accepts a voucher for a pager, the applicant's credit rating be checked or the vendor be able to offer the pager with a prepaid, month-to-month option.
The vendor will need to make sure the voucher recipient understands the financial obligation (credit deposits and monthly charges) as well as the service coverage of the pager and whether or not it meets the needs of the recipient.
Am I, as a STAP vendor, required to submit an annual report that details the quantity and types of equipment sold in the previous fiscal year (Sept. 1 thru Aug. 31)?
This report is no longer required. However, vendors must submit an updated STAP vendor application by Sept.1 of each year.
What is the best or safest way to submit vouchers to Solix for payment?
Because the burden is on the vendor if vouchers get lost in the mail system, it is best if the vendor sends vouchers via certified mail. Be sure to keep a copy of the certified document to prove that vouchers were sent.
What is the difference between a captioned telephone and a Voice Carry Over (VCO) telephone? Aren't they the same product?
No, they are not the same product and although similar, they provide 2 different types of services. In both cases the devices are used by people who are hard of hearing but use their own voice during a call speaking directly to the other person.
Using a specially-designed telephone that has a text screen and a handset, the user of a captioned telephone is able to say what he or she wants and, working through a Relay Agent who types back the words that are being said by the other person, is able to see the words from the other person with a slight delay.
A VCO telephone works similarly to the captioned telephone, but does not allow the user to hear the other person's voice.
Vendors who exchange products for the wrong type of voucher risk losing their right to receive reimbursement for the device provided.
Can I get more than one piece of STAP equipment if it is under the voucher value? For example, can I get a TTY that is retailed at $300 and two ring signalers retailed at $50 under a TTY voucher valued at $419 plus $50 for the ring signaler since the overall cost is under the total voucher value of $469?
No. The voucher recipient may exchange a voucher only for the specific items listed on the voucher. In this example, the voucher can be exchanged only for one TTY and one signaler for total of $350. The vendor also cannot put down $469 ($419 plus $50) to collect more money on a transaction for devices that sell at a total cost of $350.