Friday, September 11, 2009

Lifeline Awareness Week Begins Monday – Is There Anything for New York to Celebrate?

National Lifeline Awareness Week begins September 14th. In a new White Paper issued today, PULP took the occasion of National Lifeline Awareness Week to critically examine New York State’s Lifeline policies and the impact they have had on enrollment. See Assistance Only For Some – Twenty-Four Years of New York State’s Lifeline Discount Telephone Program, written by PULP Senior Attorney Lou Manuta.

The New York PSC is participating, with activities to promote the telephone Lifeline assistance program for low income customers. In the 24 years since Lifeline discount telephone service became available in New York State, we’ve seen those eligible customers that participate in the program be able to save at least $15 a month on their phone service, money that can be used to help pay other utility bills, rent, groceries, or medicine.

However, over one million households in the state eligible to be on Lifeline do not participate. The PULP report looks into the critical role state agencies – including the New York State Public Service Commission and the Office for Temporary and Disability Assistance – play in the Lifeline enrollment process. It also stresses that in addition to outreach and education, improved automatic enrollment, policy and program changes, along with a commitment of regulators and the telephone industry to provide the benefit to all eligible customers, are necessary to improve participation.

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