PCC Endorses Bill That Would Support Telehealth by Expanding Broadband Coverage

BRIDGE Act Would Provide Funding to States and Tribal Governments to Deploy Affordable, High-Speed Broadband

The PCC is among many national organizations throwing their support behind the Broadband Reform and Investment to Drive Growth in the Economy (BRIDGE) Act of 2020, introduced this summer by U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), who said the bill will deploy affordable, “future-proof” broadband networks nationwide. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) also supports the legislation, along with dozens of national and state-level elected officials and organizations. 

“The coronavirus pandemic has brought into focus a 21st century reality: access to high-speed, affordable broadband is critical infrastructure that helps Americans across the nation operate their businesses, pursue their education, access telehealth, and interact with their communities,” said King. “Unfortunately, too many rural communities don’t have access to this vital tool, leaving them at risk of being left behind.”

As the regular surveys of primary care clinicians and patients conducted by the PCC and the Larry A. Green Center since March have shown, primary care pivoted to telehealth very quickly when stay-at-home orders were put into place and has depended on it as patients seek care but are not able to visit their primary care practices in person. Telehealth services are dependent on reliable internet networks, and networks moving to unserved and underserved areas will enable primary care to address health inequities, which sometimes follow the technological divides among population groups.

"As the pandemic keeps millions of families at home, it has never been more urgent to extend the benefits of affordable, high-speed broadband to every American,” said Bennet. “For years, the digital divide has prevented up to 42 million Americans—disproportionately from rural areas, low-income neighborhoods, and communities of color—from being able to fully participate in modern American life.”  

In an op-ed published today, Bennet emphasized how the pandemic has pushed Americans to rely on high-speed broadband more than ever to work, learn, and connect remotely. However, up to 42 million Americans still lack access to broadband. Bennet and King’s BRIDGE Act helps close this gap by providing $30 billion to states and $1 billion to tribal governments to deploy broadband in unserved and underserved communities nationwide and ensuring newly built networks meet minimum requirements for speed, service, and affordability. The legislation empowers communities to deploy their own broadband networks if they wish and makes them eligible for financial support. Finally, the legislation accelerates an overhaul of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) broadband maps, which consistently overstate broadband access in America—especially in rural areas.

Read the full text of the bill. (also available: a section-by-section summary and a one-page summary)

Support for the BRIDGE Act from national organizations:

  • Primary Care Collaborative
  • American Library Association
  • American Psychological Association
  • Consumer Reports
  • Fiber Broadband Association
  • Institute for Local Self-Reliance
  • National Association of Realtors
  • National Farmers Union
  • National Rural Health Association
  • Public Knowledge
  • Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition





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