Millions of Americans living in rural America will stop receiving federal subsidies to purchase internet due to lack of Congressional funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Created in 2021, the federal program offered an up to $30 monthly benefit on broadband service for eligible households. Due to the program’s end on June 1st, more than 23 million households currently enrolled in the program may lose access to the internet. The end of the ACP could significantly impact access to telehealth services in rural communities, where internet connectivity is often limited and expensive. According to the federal government, nearly half of ACP households were led by someone over the age of 50. Those impacted include individuals who need regular chronic disease consultation and rely on telehealth for health care access.

Historically, individuals living in rural areas – approximately 20% of individuals living in the U.S. – face significant challenges accessing care. Compared to urban and suburban areas of the country, rural communities tend to have higher poverty rates, limited access to health care providers, more residents without health insurance and higher rates of chronic health problems such as high blood pressure and obesity. The end of the ACP program could exacerbate these disparities. While not a replacement for the ACP, there is another federal program called Lifeline that provides a $9.25 monthly benefit on broadband service for eligible households.

AHPA extends our gratitude to Kevin Lopez, guest author of this article.
Kevin is a graduate student in the Master of Healthcare Administration program at Loma Linda University