WirelessDevNet.com Press Release
11 Missouri Groups Urge U.S. Senator McCaskill To Support Lifeline Wireless Program
Nearly a dozen Missouri groups representing seniors and low-income state residents have sent a letter to U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill in support of the federal wireless Lifeline program providing cell phone service to more than 34,000 of Missouri's low-income residents.
Since 1985, the Lifeline program (http://www.fcc.gov/lifeline) has provided a discount on phone service for qualifying low-income consumers to ensure that all Americans have the opportunities and security that phone service brings, including being able to connect to jobs, family and emergency services.
The joint letter is signed by the following eleven groups: Access II Independent Living Center; ADAPT of Missouri; Citizen Education Fund; Consumer Council of Missouri; Grass Roots Organizing (GRO); Gray Panthers of Kansas and Western Missouri; Missouri Alliance for Retired Americans; Missouri Association for Community Action, INC (MACA); Missouri Association for Social Welfare; Missouri ProVote; Ready, Aim, Advocate Committee of St. Louis, MO (RAR).
The letter (http://126.96.36.199/McCaskill_Letter_FINAL_as_Sent.pdf) states: "We… are very concerned about calls for ending the Universal Service Fund (USF) Wireless Lifeline Program, which is very needed for at-risk individuals and communities. We share your desire to make sure that this program is as efficient as possible and that all avenues for fraud are eliminated. The loss of this program would have a devastating impact on the lives of eligible Missouri residents, including minorities, seniors, veterans, single parents, and low-income families."
In 2012, one Lifeline service provider reported having more than 34,000 Missouri participants enrolled in its program. Recent surveys of wireless Lifeline customers show:
- Roughly half are over 45 to 50 years of age, with a substantial percent over 60.
- More than 10 percent of program participants are Veterans.
- Americans with disabilities participate.
- A large percentage are unemployed or underemployed and use their Lifeline service to help find work.
- Lifeline service provides access to healthcare. One provider found 54 percent of participants indicated that they used the service to stay in touch with doctors and for other health care-related purposes.
The FCC's significant Lifeline overhaul has generated significant savings for the USF and should be permitted to proceed. At the same time, more can be done to ensure the integrity of the program. McCaskill's voice is critically needed on this issue.