FLORIDA FEATURING CHAIRMAN WHEELER AND COMMISSIONER CLYBURN
C2HFCC Task Force To Hold Executive-Level Policy Summit and Consumer Event
Washington, D.C. –On September 30 and October 1, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission's
Connect2Health Task Force will travel to Miami and Jacksonville, Florida, to highlight how broadband-
enabled health technologies can transform health and care for seniors, children and people with
disabilities. The scheduled policy summit, consumer event and site visits are part of the Task Force's
“Beyond the Beltway Series” to reach out broadly about the transformative power of broadband-enabled
solutions and next-generation communications technologies to improve access to health and care services
throughout the country, especially in rural and underserved areas.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2030, 1 out of every 5 Americans will be 65 or older. By 2060,
that figure will increase to 1 in 4. As our population ages and more Americans assume caregiving tasks
for family members, broadband health technologies hold great promise to help address access to care
issues, facilitate the next-generation of caregiving and provide new self-management tools.
While in Florida, FCC leadership and C2H Task Force members will visit two sophisticated technology
centers: The Telehealth Command Center at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and the Healthspot-Florida
Blue Retail Center.
The FCC will partner with the Mayo Clinic and AARP for several key events in Miami and Jacksonville
featuring FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, senior executives from
AARP Florida, Univision's Dr. Juan Rivera, Dr. Steve Ommen, Head of Connected Care for the Mayo
Clinic, and the Connect2HealthFCC Task Force.
FCC has requested comment from users as well as carriers
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has revealed plans to modernize an existing communications program to help low-income families have subsidized high-speed Internet access. Chairman Tom Wheeler shared the proposals to bring the FCC's Lifeline telecommunications subsidization program up to date by adding broadband to the phone-only scheme, as well as making sure the basic standards are in place for connections, in an attempt to minimize waste and costs by increasing competition and minimizing the potential for defrauding the program.
Minimum service standards for voice and broadband are proposed, to make sure "both Lifeline subscribers and ratepayers are getting the best possible value from the service." It is suggested that the current system of requiring providers to check the subscriber's eligibility for the program be altered to remove providers from the process entirely, such as establishing a third-party administrator. An increase in competition, as championed by Wheeler previously, should also be of benefit to both Lifeline subscribers and ratepayers in lowering costs and raising the quality of service.
Building on top of Lifeline reforms implemented in 2012, the FCC wants to "crack down on waste, fraud, and abuse, and protect ratepayer dollars." This would include requiring documented proof of subscriber eligibility, annual eligibility recertification, making sure Lifeline subscriptions are limited to one per household, the creation of a National Lifeline Accountability Database, and independent carrier audits every two years.
The proposals may change before they are implemented, as the FCC has requested comment from users as well as carriers.
"Broadband is key to Lifeline's future," writes Wheeler. "In 2015, broadband access is essential to find a job: more than 80 percent of Fortune 500 job openings are online." After noting the need for broadband for keeping a job, improving basic digital literacy skills, education, and healthcare management, in theory saving US consumers around $8,800 per year, Wheeler laments at the lack of broadband penetration.
"Nearly 30 percent of Americans still haven't adopted broadband at home, and low-income consumers disproportionately lack access. While more than 95 percent of households with incomes over $150,000 have broadband, only 48 percent of those making less than $25,000 have service at home." Wheeler suggests "A world of broadband 'haves' and 'have-nots' is a world where none of us will have the opportunity to enjoy the full fruits of what broadband has to offer."