CPUC Protects Access to Phone Service for Low-Income Californians
Advocates Praise Move to Protect LifeLine Program from Federal Cuts
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – At the urging of The Greenlining Institute and other advocates, the California Public Utilities Commission yesterday approved a plan spearheaded by Commissioner Martha Guzman-Aceves to protect low-income Californians from drastic federal cutbacks to eligibility for the LifeLine program. LifeLine provides affordable phone service (including smartphone data) to low-income customers.
“This decision marks a great milestone in California’s resistance to the federal war on low-income Americans,” said Greenlining Institute Telecommunications Legal Counsel Vinhcent Le. “From preserving access to affordable healthcare and growing momentum for state net neutrality protections, to today’s decision on LifeLine, California has consistently fought to protect its most vulnerable citizens.”
Eligibility for LifeLine is based on either income or participation in a variety of government assistance programs for low-income people. Previously, the FCC removed the National School Lunch Program, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families from the list of programs that qualify people for LifeLine assistance, potentially cutting off over 81,000 current participants and blocking another 322,000 more from eligibility based on income.
The new decision preserves current eligibility rules, with the state making up the cost difference. Greenlining was joined by a variety of other consumer advocates, including TURN and the Center for Accessible Technology, in advocating for today’s decision.