Press Release

Leading Hospital Associations Warn the End of the Affordable Connectivity Program Will Hurt Patients Across America, Endorse ACP Extension Act

May 10, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate’s bipartisan cosponsors of the Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act today shared new letters of support for their bipartisan bill to extend the Affordable Connectivity Program from the American Hospital Association, which represents nearly 5,000 member hospitals and more than 270,000 affiliated physicians, andAmerica’s Essential Hospitals, which represents more than 300 hospitals across the country that provide safety net care for low-income patients.  

The American Hospital Association wrote to the bill’s original Senate cosponsors Sens. Peter Welch (D-Vt.)JD Vance (R-Ohio)Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) highlighting the importance of the ACP to patients who rely on the internet for telehealth, scheduling appointments, and accessing their health records:  

“While the ACP extends beyond health care, the provisions can support patients’ access to certain services like telehealth visits, hospital at home, patient portals and electronic patient records, virtual scheduling, and remote patient monitoring — which are not possible without reliable internet. Without congressional action, ACP benefits will decrease down to a partial benefit of $14 in May before completely expiring in June. We commend you for including $7 billion of supplemental funding for the ACP to ensure that patients do not lose access to their reliable, high-speed internet. This legislation is also critical in continuing efforts to reduce disparities and advance health equity by giving patients in rural and underserved areas the necessary resources to utilize various forms of telehealth, as well as other digital health services.” 

The bipartisan bill was also endorsed by America’s Essential Hospitals, a coalition of more than 300 hospitals that provide care to the most vulnerable patients and populations: 

“Access to internet and broadband services is crucial to ensuring access to care and supports essential hospitals’ safety net role. Through telehealth, essential hospitals offer routine and specialized care, remote patient monitoring after discharge, remote chronic care management, and psychiatric and substance use disorder treatment services at double the rate of other acute-care hospitals—in some cases, at an even higher rate. 

“Essential hospitals continually work to expand coverage and improve health outcomes, and we believe this legislation is crucial to connecting health care providers to all people, regardless of socioeconomic barriers to treatment.” 

The cosponsors also shared letters of support from the Massachusetts Telemedicine Coalition, which has identified extending the ACP as a key federal telehealth priority. Previously, the bill received support from Vermont-based health care providers and agencies.   

Over 23 million Americans utilize the ACP. The number of Americans who utilize telehealth has increased each year over the past decade, with a 70% surge in use of the service following the COVID-19 pandemic. A December 2023 survey of ACP subscribers reported that 77% of subscribers say they used the program to schedule or attend health care appointments.   

A new study from the Chamber of Progress found that if Congress allows the ACP to lapse lower-income families would not only lose access to high-speed internet but also to $10 billion in work opportunities, $1.4 billion in telehealth savings, and $627 million in student benefits. 

The Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act is cosponsored in the Senate by U.S. Senators Peter Welch (D-Vt.), JD Vance (R-Ohio), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Roger Marshall (R-Kan.). U.S. Representatives Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY-09) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01) are leading the legislation in the House. 

Read more about the bill here and see state-by-state data on the ACP here.