Lee Schafer

NaLA Comments on FCC Connected Care Pilot Program Notice of Inquiry

The National Lifeline Association (NaLA) filed a response to a recent Notice of Inquiry (NOI) regarding the Connected Care Pilot Program, a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) telehealth program that seeks to assist low-income Americans.

comments-fcc-connected-care-pilot-program-NOIFCC Promoting Telehealth for Low-Income Consumers

The Connected Care Pilot Program is part of an FCC telehealth initiative and would seek “to improve health outcomes among low-income Americans through the use of expanded access to telehealth services.” The $100 million FCC proposal for a Connected Care Pilot Program received unanimous approval in August 2018.

In the NOI, the FCC acknowledges an increasing reliance on broadband-enabled telehealth services when providing high quality health care. The pilot would improve healthcare for low-income consumers by bringing connected care resources to low-income Americans with a wide range of health challenges, including cancer treatment, pediatric heart disease, high risk pregnancies, stroke treatment, and diabetes management.

FCC Seeks Comment on Connected Care Pilot Program NOI

In response to the NOI, NaLA expressed concerns in a September 10, 2018 filing. As an organization that has long viewed Lifeline as a tool to increase access to healthcare for low-income consumers, NaLA supports the purpose of the Connected Care Pilot Program, but expressed two main concerns:

  1. Telehealth services provided by the program would not be offered to all low-income Americans who need them.  

    The NOI seeks comment on “limiting the participating health care providers’ use of the pilot program funding to Medicaid-eligible patients, as well as veterans who qualify based on income for cost-free health care benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).”

    NaLA believes strongly that this limitation would lead to many exclusions of the low-income demographic for whom the program was designed to serve.

     

  2. The Commission would restrict provider participation to “Facilities-based” ETCs (providers).

    This restriction would further limit accessibility for low-income consumers who are in need of telehealth services by limiting the number of providers. The NOI suggests that such an approach would be consistent with the Lifeline program, proposing “that participants should be facilities-based … given that one of the goals of the pilot is to increase broadband deployment in unserved and underserved areas.”

    NaLA opposes this point, noting that nearly 70 percent of low-income consumers within the Lifeline program are served by non-facilities based ETCs (wireless resellers). Additionally, NaLA adds that resellers “have a unique expertise in locating, enrolling and serving the same communities that the Connected Care Pilot Program seeks to serve, i.e., low-income consumers and veterans”.

In conclusion, NaLA respectfully requested that the Commission design any Connected Care Pilot Program consistent with these comments to most effectively and efficiently meet the program goals.

View Full Response to the Connected Care Pilot Program NOI

 

Read NaLA’s September 10 Comments to the FCC Notice of Inquiry here.

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Lee SchaferNaLA Comments on FCC Connected Care Pilot Program Notice of Inquiry
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NaLA Files Comment on TracFone Emergency Petition Requesting National Verifier Delay

September 12, 2018 – The National Lifeline Association (NaLA) filed comments supporting the recent TracFone emergency petition requesting alterations to the Lifeline National Verifier by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), administrator of the Lifeline Program.

TracFone Emergency Petition Requests FCC Delay USAC National Verifier Launch

The emergency petition from TracFone urges the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to delay USAC from further implementation of the National Verifier.

TracFone has concerns that the National Verifier, which has already launched in six states, is not integrated to all of the necessary state databases that would allow it to effectively function in determining Lifeline eligibility.

The petition requests that USAC ensure, prior to launching the National Verifier in additional states, that the National Verifier access key databases (particularly the Medicaid Enrollment Databases) and also accept eligibility proof from select third parties.

TracFone reports that the requested alterations will improve the efficiency of the automated and manual eligibility processes, which ultimately support the National Verifier.

NaLA Files Comments Supporting TracFone Emergency Petition to Delay Lifeline National Verifier

NaLA recently filed comments echoing the TracFone petition concerns regarding the launch of the National Verifier.

While the support for the National Verifier has been consistently unanimous, the success of the National Verifier in confirming subscriber eligibility is based on participation in qualifying federal programs, particularly the Medicaid enrollment database.

Medicaid participants account for 29 percent of Lifeline enrollments and the USAC’s launch strategy has resulted in leaving some of the subscribers who need Lifeline the most — especially those enrolled in Medicaid and dependent on Lifeline services  — at risk for losing phone service, not just to connect to society but also to manage their care” – National Lifeline Association

USAC also refused to accept evidence of eligibility for the manual verification process through third-party sources such as Managed Care Organization (MCO). USAC not allowing proof of eligibility through MCO will interfere with the efforts to enroll eligible subscribers in the Lifeline program.

To provide an enrollment process that better serves eligible consumers, NaLA suggests, “directing USAC to accept proof of eligibility from MCOs […] will make the National Verifier more efficient and effective for USAC, consumers and service providers.”

Read NaLA’s Comments On TracFone’s Emergency Petition

NaLA Comments on TracFone Emergency Petition

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Lee SchaferNaLA Files Comment on TracFone Emergency Petition Requesting National Verifier Delay
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CTIA Opposes FCC Lifeline Changes Banning Wireless Resellers

February 21, 2018 –  CTIA, an wireless connectivity advocacy organization, voices their opposition to the recent FCC proposals on the Lifeline Program, which provides essential communication services to qualifying low-income American families. CTIA’s filed their comments to the FCC in response to the FCC’s 2017 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and Notice of Inquiry (NOI), and more specifically comments on concerns over the proposed elimination of wireless resellers from the Lifeline Program, which would ban non-facilities-based providers from serving as Lifeline Providers.

CTIA on Elimination of Wireless Resellers from Lifeline Program

CTIA’s belief that the Commission’s proposal elimination of wireless resellers from Lifeline would negatively impact competition and harm low-income consumers supports the integrity of the Lifeline program and urges the FCC to reconsider these key issues. CTIA expressed that while it supports the FCC’s commitment ensure the integrity of the Lifeline Program. However, in the letter they stated that “expeditious implementation of the National Lifeline Eligibility Verifier (National Verifier or Verifier) is the most important thing the Commission can do to limit waste, fraud, and abuse in the Lifeline program. Accordingly, the Commission should remain focused on implementing the National Verifier before considering any further large-scale program reforms” and that the organization “strongly encourages the Commission not to adopt the proposal in the NPRM/NOI to exclude non-facilities-based providers from the Lifeline program.”

CTIA to FCC on “Exhibit A” Lifeline Economic Study

Also referenced in the letter from CTIA was the “Exhibit A” Declaration by Dr. John Mayo, an recently conducted economic study which also supports of not excluding resellers (non-facilities-based providers) from Lifeline. This study provides evidence that the NPRM’s proposal to limit Lifeline facilities-based carriers is inconsistent with economic basis of Lifeline and doesn’t support the goal of universal connectivity.  CTIA concludes “Ultimately, Dr. Mayo’s analysis shows that the data on network investment do not support limiting subsidies to facilities-based providers and excluding non-facilities based providers in order to further incent deployment.  In light of the economic evidence, the Commission should conclude that, in order to avoid undermining investment in broadband networks, it must continue to allow non-facilities based providers to participate in Lifeline.”

Read Complete Filing of CTIA Comments to FCC

[pdf-embedder url=”https://www.nalalifeline.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/180221-CTIA-Lifeline-Comments.pdf”]

 

 

 

About CTIA:

CTIA® represents the U.S. wireless communications industry and the companies throughout the mobile ecosystem that enable Americans to lead a 21st century connected life. The association’s members include wireless carriers, device manufacturers, suppliers as well as apps and content companies. CTIA vigorously advocates at all levels of government for policies that foster continued wireless innovation and investment. The association also coordinates the industry’s voluntary best practices, hosts educational events that promote the wireless industry and co-produces the industry’s leading wireless tradeshow. CTIA was founded in 1984 and is based in Washington, D.C.

About NaLA:

The National Lifeline Association is the only industry trade group specifically focused on the Lifeline segment of telecommunications. We support the 4 essential components of Lifeline: ETCs & Providers, Distributors, Lifeline Supporters & Participants, and Government & Regulatory Bodies. We are passionate about the continuity and advancement of the Lifeline program and we drive this vision through our mission to “support providers, distributors, participants, and supporters of lifeline through education, cooperation, and advocacy.”

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Lee SchaferCTIA Opposes FCC Lifeline Changes Banning Wireless Resellers
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Sprint Opposes Lifeline Wireless Reseller Ban

February 20, 2018 — Sprint expresses concerns with the FCC’s recent proposals concerning a Lifeline wireless reseller ban, which would prohibit wireless resellers from serving low income households as Service Providers through the Lifeline Program. The Notice on Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), an initiative from the FCC’s November 2017 Open Meeting that included various Lifeline Program initiatives, such as banning wireless resellers from providing Lifeline service.

Sprint says Lifeline Wireless Reseller Ban Could Affect 6.1 Million

Sprint, a facilities-based provider, has echoed the concerns of various non-facilities-based providers on the recent FCC proposals found in the NPRM. They oppose the Lifeline wireless reseller ban that the FCC is pursuing, and state that the “elimination of resellers from the Lifeline program would be disruptive to current and potential Lifeline customers. The majority of Lifeline customers obtain service from resellers, which had an estimated 6.1 million customers as of December 2017.”

Consequences of FCC Lifeline Wireless Reseller Ban

The letter from Sprint highlights many concerns for Lifeline Participants that rely on the program to assist them in accessing essential communication services. They noted that the Lifeline wireless reseller ban would result in a “a sharp reduction in the number of wireless service providers offering Lifeline service; in some areas, there may remain only a single facilities-based wireless Lifeline service provider, and in other areas, there may be no facilities-based wireless Lifeline service provider at all.” Sprint adds that “users [Lifeline Participants] will not realize they need to obtain service from a facilities-based carrier, some will not know how to transfer their service, some will not provide required documentation in a timely manner. Some customers will successfully transfer to a facilities-based carrier, but some will lose service altogether.”

The forced exit of wireless resellers as Lifeline service providers from the Lifeline market is disruptive of consumer access to emergency services, or other resources necessary for employment, health care, or childcare.

Read Sprint’s Letter to FCC

[pdf-embedder url=”https://www.nalalifeline.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Sprint-LL-comments.pdf”]

Postponing of Lifeline Program Eligibility Verifier (National Verifier)

In addition to concerns about the ban of wireless resellers in Lifeline, Sprint also asserts in the letter to the FCC that the National Verifier is a crucial part of reducing waste, fraud, and abuse within the program – and should be the most important focus of the Commission at this time.

The recent postponing of the National Verifier launch has created concern that the Commission’s actions do not support it’s stated goals about strengthening the Lifeline Program eligibility verification processes.

“Getting the deployment timeline back on track is the surest way for the Commission to advance the common goal of ensuring Lifeline program integrity,” Sprint states in their letter to the FCC. Sprint, TracFone and other Telecommunication companies are in agreement that efforts are best focused on the National Verifier, prior to making any drastic changes to the program, which helps nearly 11 million low-income Americans access phone and internet services.

 

About NaLA:

The National Lifeline Association is the only industry trade group specifically focused on the Lifeline segment of telecommunications. We support the 4 essential components of Lifeline: ETCs & Providers, Distributors, Lifeline Supporters & Participants, and Government & Regulatory Bodies. We are passionate about the continuity and advancement of the Lifeline program and we drive this vision through our mission to “support providers, distributors, participants, and supporters of lifeline through education, cooperation, and advocacy.”

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Lee SchaferSprint Opposes Lifeline Wireless Reseller Ban
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TracFone Opposes FCC Lifeline Program Changes

February 20, 2018 — A letter filed by TracFone opposes FCC Lifeline Program changes. The Notice on Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), an initiative from the FCC’s November 2017 Open Meeting, included various Lifeline Program initiatives, such as eliminating wireless resellers from providing Lifeline service. More recently, the FCC has postponed the launch of the program’s National Verifier, an initiative that is in line with the stated goals of the commission, seeking to strengthen the Lifeline Program and reduce potential waste, fraud, and abuse.

Letter from TracFone Opposes FCC Lifeline Program Changes

In the letter, TracFone applauds the commission’s efforts to strengthen the Lifeline Program, but warns of the consequences of eliminating wireless resellers from the Lifeline Program, as this would negatively affect the consumers that the program seeks to help. The letter from TracFone opposes FCC Lifeline Program changes, asserting that “proposing to exclude all non-facilities-based Lifeline providers (the “Facilities-Based Proposal”) from the program and reorienting its mission from one that addresses affordability to one that encourages infrastructure deployment, the Commission has chosen a blunt instrument that would deny more than 8 million households their preferred Lifeline services without meaningfully reducing the opportunities for waste and fraud. Indeed, in proposing to do away with consumer choice and competition brought about by resellers, the NPRM fails to make the case for how the remaining facilities-based monopolies resulting from such regulatory intervention will spur rural network buildout or otherwise benefit Lifeline customers, particularly since many facilities-based providers have reduced their Lifeline participation or sought to leave the program altogether in recent months.”

Read TracFone’s Letter to FCC

[pdf-embedder url=”https://www.nalalifeline.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Comments-of-TracFone-Wireless-.pdf”]

Postponing of Lifeline Eligibility Verifier

In addition to concerns on the elimination of wireless resellers, TracFone also asserted that the update to the National Verifier Plan includes processes that are unnecessarily inefficient, burdensome, and contradictory to the Federal Communications Commission’s stated goals for the National Verifier. The recent postponing of the National Verifier launch is creating concern that the FCC’s actions do not support it’s stated goals about strengthening the Lifeline Program eligibility verification processes. TracFone, Sprint, and other Telecommunication companies are in agreement that efforts are best focused on the National Verifier, prior to making any drastic changes to the program, which helps nearly 11 million low-income Americans access phone and internet services.

TracFone commented that the FCC’s proposal “…departs greatly from the light-touch regulatory approach favored by the current Administration, and represents a sweeping, unprecedented, and possibly illegal governmental intrusion into an otherwise healthy and competitive marketplace that lacks signs of widespread market failure. The Commission must reject its proposal that singles out resellers for their collective status, not for their individual behaviors, and that, if implemented, will forever undermine the utility of the Lifeline program for more than two out of every three existing Lifeline subscribers and render it inaccessible or impractical for still millions more.”

About the National Lifeline Association (NaLA)

The National Lifeline Association is the only industry trade group specifically focused on the Lifeline segment of telecommunications. We support the 4 essential components of Lifeline: ETCs & Providers, Distributors, Lifeline Supporters & Participants, and Government & Regulatory Bodies. We are passionate about the continuity and advancement of the Lifeline program and we drive this vision through our mission to “support providers, distributors, participants, and supporters of lifeline through education, cooperation, and advocacy.”

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Lee SchaferTracFone Opposes FCC Lifeline Program Changes
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FCC Public Notice Announces Universal Lifeline Forms

February 20, 2018 — FCC Public Notice DA 18-161 announces the implementation of Universal Lifeline forms to be used during program eligibility determination. The Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB) provided guidance for use of these Universal Lifeline forms, which will be a requirement for Lifeline service providers starting July 1, 2018.

New Universal Lifeline Forms

The FCC asserts that “Implementing universal forms will foster greater consistency in the Lifeline eligibility determination and recertification processes, thereby aiding in program administration and reducing improper payments due to errors in application and recertification forms.” Lifeline Program application and recertification forms are a large part of the documentation process related to consumer-eligibility for the Lifeline Program, which provides qualifying low-income Americans with wireless telecommunications.

The WCB collaborated with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), the organization that administers Lifeline Program funds, to develop simple, user-friendly forms to improve the ease of processes related to eligibility-verification for the Lifeline Program. The universal forms include FCC Form 5629 (Lifeline Application Form), FCC Form 5630 (Lifeline Annual Recertification Form), and FCC Form 5631(Lifeline One-Per-Household Worksheet). These are available on the Lifeline Program Form page.

In addition to the future implementation of the National Verifier, these forms are an important step toward streamlining eligibility and recertification processes that lessen the margin of error during the Lifeline application process.

Read FCC Public Notice DA 18-161 here:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://www.nalalifeline.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/FCC-Public-Notice-NaLA-Blog-2222018.pdf”]

About the National Lifeline Association (NaLA):

The National Lifeline Association is the only industry trade group specifically focused on the Lifeline segment of telecommunications. We support the 4 essential components of Lifeline: ETCs & Providers, Distributors, Lifeline Supporters & Participants, and Government & Regulatory Bodies. We are passionate about the continuity and advancement of the Lifeline program and we drive this vision through our mission to “support providers, distributors, participants, and supporters of lifeline through education, cooperation, and advocacy.”

NaLA’s Vision:

In America, every person should have access to essential communication services.”

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Lee SchaferFCC Public Notice Announces Universal Lifeline Forms
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NaLA to NARUC, on Resolution in Support of Wireless Resellers

NaLA released a press release earlier this week, thanking the NARUC on their resolution in support of reseller participation in the Lifeline Program. The resolution was in response to several FCC initiates that threaten to remove wireless resellers from providing Lifeline service to low-income American families in need of essential communication services.

The consumer committee endorsed the draft to urge the FCC to continue to allow non-facilities-based Lifeline providers to continue to receive low-income telecom sub­sidies – a unanimous decision, according to Chairman Maida Coleman, a Missouri commissioner who sponsored the draft.

Read the Press Release from the National Lifeline Association (NaLA):


February 14, 2018
— Today, NARUC – the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners – adopted a Resolution to ensure that the Federal Lifeline Program Continues to Provide Service to Low-Income Households. The National Lifeline Association (referred to as “NaLA”) appreciates NARUC’s decisive and bipartisan action to defend very low-income Americans access to basic telephone service by opposing the FCC’s proposal to eliminate wireless resellers from the Lifeline program. Over the past decade, states have carried out their statutory role to approve Lifeline providers, and state-designated wireless service providers have grown to serve approximately 90% of Lifeline subscribers. Wireless resellers account for the vast majority of that total and now serve between 7 and 8 million Lifeline subscribers. Based on this success in providing very low-income consumers with the mobile wireless services they can better afford and prefer, state commissions have routinely granted requests from legacy landline service providers to relinquish their ETC designations.

“We thank the state commissioners and NARUC for their efforts to ensure that very low-income consumers can stay connected in today’s digital economy through the Lifeline program,” said David Dorwart, Chairman of NaLA. “Today’s action sends a strong signal that the states continue to take seriously their statutorily designated role in determining which providers are eligible to offer Lifeline services. The FCC’s proposal to eliminate wireless resellers from the program would upend dozens of state designation decisions and strip services from more than 7 million very low-income subscribers. We are tremendously appreciative that the states have joined NaLA, CTIA, Sprint, TracFone and a wide-range of other stakeholders who have come out in support of very low-income consumers, including veterans, the elderly, the disabled, students, single mothers and others throughout rural, suburban and urban areas of America, and recognize the key role wireless resellers perform in delivering those services.”

NaLA also appreciates the resolution’s call for a budget that preserves service for those currently on Lifeline and allows for “reasonable and rational growth” up to the current budget of approximately $2.25 billion. Together with the FCC’s implementation of the National Verifier, these reforms will continue to protect and preserve the integrity of the Lifeline program. It is essential to ensure that the program is available today and tomorrow for all who need assistance and to ensure that they are connected every day to the voice and broadband services all Americans rely on daily to connect to emergency services, educators, healthcare, community and employment services.

About The National Lifeline Association (NaLA):

The National Lifeline Association is the only industry trade group specifically focused on the Lifeline segment of telecommunications. We support the 4 essential components of Lifeline: ETCs & Providers, Distributors, Lifeline Supporters & Participants, and Government & Regulatory Bodies. We are passionate about the continuity and advancement of the Lifeline program and we drive this vision through our mission to “support providers, distributors, participants, and supporters of Lifeline through education, cooperation, and advocacy.”

NaLA’s Vision:

In America, every person should have access to essential communication services.

For comprehensive information regarding the FCC’s proposed changes to the Lifeline program, letter from Congress, industry analysis, and sources please go to www.nalalifeline.org.

Media Contact & Information:

The National Lifeline Association
Phone: (844) 937-6252
Email: [email protected]

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Lee SchaferNaLA to NARUC, on Resolution in Support of Wireless Resellers
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Dems Request GAO Review of FCC on Lifeline National Verifier

Jan. 25, 2018 — A letter from a number of members from the U.S. House Energy & Commerce aasked the Government Accountability Office (GAO)  to review the FCC’s efforts to deploy the Lifeline Program National Verifier — an initiative that aims to verify subscriber information for Lifeline Program participants and ultimately increase the integrity of the Lifeline Program.

House Dems Ask GAO to Review FCC Progress on Lifeline Program National Verifier

In November, the FCC adopted the Lifeline reform revamp and FCC chairman Ajit Pai revoked the most recent round of certifications to new applicants until the FCC addressed the verification issue, but the letter from House members expresses concern that the FCC is not doing all it can to launch the Lifeline Program National Verifier in a timely fashion. In their letter to the GAO, they called for prioritization of the Lifeline Program National Verifier and requested answers to a number of questions, including whether the FCC has a strategic plan for implementing the program on time and what steps it has taken to implement that.

Representatives who signed the letter included Bobby Rush, Frank Pallone, Anna Eshoo, Mike Doyle, G.K Butterfield, Doris Matsui, Jerry McNerney and Evette Clarke.

Source Ref.:  B&C News, House Dems Seek GAO Review of Lifeline Verifier  By John Eggerton

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Lee SchaferDems Request GAO Review of FCC on Lifeline National Verifier
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FCC Postpones National Verifier Launch for Lifeline Program

DEC 1, 2017 —  A newly released FCC Public Notice (WC Docket No. 11-42) announces the FCC Postpones National Verifier for Lifeline Program, which aims to verify subscriber information for Lifeline Program participants.

Updated National Verifier Launch

Up until this point, the National Verifier had been on schedule to launch in six states beginning this month. The initiative, born out of the 2016 Lifeline Modernization Order, is now set to launch in early 2018. Once fully implemented, the National Verifier initiative is the next step toward increasing the integrity of the Lifeline Program, which provides low-income American families access to essential communication services.

The FCC decision to Postpone the National Verifier Launch for Lifeline Program is mainly related to requirements of the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 (FISMA), an act created to ensure data security within the federal government.

The Wireline Competition Bueau (WCB) stated in the FCC Public Notice that “to fulfill this responsibility and protect the security of Lifeline applicants’ personal information, we expect that a postponement until early 2018 will provide USAC with sufficient time to complete all FISMA requirements prior to the initial launch of the National Verifier.”

Read the Dec 1 FCC Public Notice on National Verifier Launch Date

[pdf-embedder url=”https://www.nalalifeline.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/FCC-Public-Notice-December-1-2017-Wireline-Competition-Bureau-DA-17-1167A1.pdf”]

More on the National Verifier Launch Timeline

USAC will host a webinar on Monday, December 4 at 1 PM ET to discuss the National Verifier launch timeline and answer questions. Register Here.

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Lee SchaferFCC Postpones National Verifier Launch for Lifeline Program
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56 Congress Members Sign Letter To FCC Opposing November 16 Lifeline Program Changes

KENNETT SQUARE, PA–(Marketwired – Nov 16, 2017) The National Lifeline Association (Referred to as “NaLA”) reports that 56 members of Congress have signed and delivered a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai opposing changes to the Lifeline Program which attack low-income families, Veterans, and Native American Tribes.

Press-Release-56-House-Democrats-Sign-Congressional-Lifeline-Letter-to-FCC-on-Lifeline-Changes

The Lifeline Program was created 30 years ago by President Reagan to help ensure that the most vulnerable Americans – which include low-income families, Veterans, and Native Americans – have access to lifesaving communications services. The program was updated and reformed under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama to accommodate for technological advances and to strengthen the program’s integrity by minimizing fraud, waste, and abuse.

The program currently provides a modest monthly subsidy of $9.25 from Universal Service Funds, to connect low-income Americans with telephone and internet services.

Proposed changes by the FCC to the Lifeline Program include:

  • Major cuts and budget caps on the Lifeline program, which may shrink the size of all recipient benefits
  • Lifetime cap on individual users which could inflict arbitrary limits on participation and completely cut off those in need
  • Ban “non-facilities-based providers” from participating in the Lifeline Program

The following statement may be attributed to David Dorwart, Chairman of NaLA. “By banning ‘non-facilities-based providers’ from participating in the Lifeline program, 80% of the top Lifeline providers will be forced to stop service, resulting in disconnections for approximately 7.5 million Lifeline recipients nationwide. In some areas of the country, these are the only providers that offer Lifeline service. As a result, as many as three quarters of the current Lifeline subscriber base will be stripped of this crucial service, including over 1.3 million active and retired Veterans and more than half of all current Tribal Lifeline subscribers.”

If ultimately adopted, Chairman Pai’s proposals would roll back the United States’ longstanding commitment that advanced telecommunications services should be universally available to and affordable for all Americans. According to Public Knowledge, “The Chairman’s plan would strand millions of low-income families, Veterans, and children without affordable communications services, and drastically curtail their access to the education, job training, and basic services that increasingly require an internet connection. Rather than moving forward with this plan that would harm the most vulnerable, the FCC should refocus its efforts to promote affordable, competitive broadband for all Americans, and ensure that the Lifeline program remains a core component of our efforts to close the digital divide.”

Read the Congressional letter in its entirety:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://www.nalalifeline.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/final_Meeks-Moore-Lifeline-Letter.pdf”]


Congressman Gregory W. Meeks, stated,
“In our modern, highly technological and interconnected world, internet and phone service are all but required to lead a functional life. Many Americans still don’t have phone and internet access, rendering it nearly impossible to complete everyday tasks, such as finishing assigned schoolwork or conducting a phone interview. He also stated, “The digital divide—which Chairman Pai promised he would seek to minimize—persists today and the Lifeline Program is critical in helping minimize it. Yet, Chairman Pai’s proposed changes would practically decimate the Lifeline program, upon which millions of Americans rely. Indeed, this is nothing more than a poorly disguised attack on our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. I thank Congresswoman Moore and the cosigners and endorsing organizations of this letter for partnering with me to stand against Chairman Pai’s efforts to widen the digital divide.”

Organizations endorsing the congressional letter opposing changes to the Lifeline Program include: National Lifeline Association (NaLA), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Communications Workers of America (CWA), Public Knowledge, Free Press, National Hispanic Media Coalition, Benton Foundation, Greenlining Institute, United Church of Christ, Common Sense Kids Action, National Consumer Law Center, The Utility Reform Network, OpenMedia, OCA- Asian Pacific American Advocates, New America’s Open Technology Institute, Appalshop, Inc.

The National Lifeline Association (NaLA) takes the position that these proposed changes will widen the digital divide facing low-income Americans and are unnecessary given successful reforms to the Lifeline Program, including the December 2017 launch of the National Verifier. Because Lifeline accounts for less than 20% of the allocations to the Universal Service Fund (source: 2016 USAC Annual Budget) and is currently running at about $1 billion a year below its budget, steps aimed at reducing the program’s budget, participation levels and disbursements are indefensible.

About The National Lifeline Association (NaLA):

The National Lifeline Association is the only industry trade group specifically focused on the Lifeline segment of telecommunications. We support the 4 essential components of Lifeline: ETCs & Providers, Distributors, Lifeline Supporters & Participants, and Government & Regulatory Bodies. We are passionate about the continuity and advancement of the Lifeline program and we drive this vision through our mission to “support providers, distributors, participants, and supporters of lifeline through education, cooperation, and advocacy.”

NaLA’s Vision: “In America, every person should have access to essential communication services.”

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Lee Schafer56 Congress Members Sign Letter To FCC Opposing November 16 Lifeline Program Changes
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