updated 05:10 pm EDT, Wed April 24, 2013
Bill introduces reforms to program to cut on waste and abuse
A new act was introduced to the House of Representatives yesterday seeks to update the "Lifeline" FCC program. The intent of the legislation is to expand the Lifeline program, and offer recipients the option of discounted telephone, mobile, and now, internet broadband access. The FCC chairman-supported bill was introduced on April 24 by representatives Doris Matsui (D-CA), Henry Waxman (D-CA), and Anne Eshoo (D-CA).
The bill dovetails with the FCC's "Connect America" proposal to bring broadband to 100 million underserved US homes by 2020. Provisions inside the bill exist to expand the program, as well as cut down on well-publicized fraud in the system.
Changes underway in the Lifeline system, including the implementation of a "National Lifeline Accountability Database" are hoped to save $2 billion over three years, with approximately $200 million saved in 2012.
Funding for the extant Lifeline program comes from the Universal Service Fund that is applied to most provider's bills to customers. No data has been provided as far as what extra funds the bill would necessitate, which would make this bill a difficult one to pass in the current federal financial climate.