Press Release

Passing the Bipartisan ‘Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act’ is Essential to Protect Telehealth in America

Apr 10, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (D-N.Y.-09) are urging their colleagues to pass the bipartisan Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act now so millions of people who receive health care services via telehealth can keep their access to high-speed affordable internet. The bipartisan Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act would provide $7 billion for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides affordable high-speed internet options to qualifying households across America. 

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.  

In March 2024, a coalition of Vermont-based associations representing health care providers, community and federal health agencies, and other health care stakeholders wrote to Senator Welch in support of extending the Affordable Connectivity Program for those who cannot afford broadband: “Winding down the Affordable Connectivity Program in April will deprive vulnerable Vermonters of a crucial lifeline to care. We urge you to maintain access to broadband by supporting the Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act.” The letter was signed by the Vermont Medical Society, VITL, Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, VNAs of Vermont, Vermont Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics – VT Chapter, VT Psychiatric Association, Bi-State Primary Care Association, Vermont Health Care Association, Vermont Care Partners, Vermont State Dental Society, Vermont Association of Adult Day Services, and the University of Vermont Health Network. 

“Telehealth has revolutionized how people access health care, and its popularity continues to grow among patients and providers alike. The growing availability of telehealth services has made it easier for people to get the care they need, especially for lower-income and folks in rural areas who face long distances or cost barriers. But without the Affordable Connectivity Program, millions could lose access to high-speed internet, which is essential for telehealth services. Congress must act quickly to pass the Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act to ensure that everyone in need of care can continue to access crucial telehealth services,” said Senator Welch

“Across the nation, patients have turned to telehealth for convenient, affordable care. From young families to rural seniors, these services are invaluable. There should never be cost barriers to necessary care. Yet, with increased demand for telehealth, unaffordable broadband is another roadblock. Congress must pass the Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act and protect Americans’ access to the care they need for healthy, happy lives,” said Rep. Yvette Clarke

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. 

The Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act is supported by over 400 organizations, including: AARP, American Civil Liberties Union, African Family Holistic Heath Organization, AT&T, Charter, City of Tempe Community Health & Human Services, Comcast, Communications Workers of America, Cox Communications, CTIA, Link Health, Methodist Healthcare Ministries, Thrive Health Tech – The Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition – The Wireless Association, INCOMPAS, NAACP, NCTA – The Internet & Television Association, NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association, T-Mobile, USTelecom, Verizon, Wireless Infrastructure Association, and WTA – Advocates for Rural Broadband. 

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