The OIG does not specify which providers committed fraud, but according to the report, “the most egregious example identified, more than a thousand Oklahoma Households were enrolled based on the eligibility of a single BQP, a 4-year-old child receives benefits from Medicaid. Child’s first and last name, date of birth and L4SSN were used again and again – often several times a day – to create new ACP eEnrollment transactions beginning December 2021.” According to the report, three ISPs requested “more than $365,000” in tax refunds for more than 1,000 “enrollments” based on the 4-year-old’s Medicaid benefits.
This isn’t a betrayal of citizens, which conservatives like to rant about when they try to cut welfare benefits. These are big companies doing a big scam. In addition, broadband providers long ago gave up the pretense of rolling out high-speed infrastructure in rural and poor areas, for which they received tax subsidy after tax subsidy.
Conservatives have argued that the reason so many Americans craved affordable access to an essential utility like a working Internet was because the telecoms industry needed more deregulation. The fact that telecom companies have enjoyed monopolies across the country and repeatedly abused consumers without building affordable infrastructure seems to mean nothing. Under Trump’s Ajit The Pai-corrupt FCC, the GOP, tried to kick 70% of people off their low-income broadband connections. That was in 2017.
Pai’s argument at the time was that they had to cut programs for low-income earners because they feared citizens would take advantage of the assistance. Of course, this claim was not supported by facts, while there was nothing but evidence to the contrary: the only people who duped the government about “low-income internet” were companies like AT&T. Republicans didn’t have a clue, or more accurately, didn’t care to provide more affordable Internet access to low-income families. No, former Verizon attorney Pai simply slowed progress, declaimed his decision-making powers, and allowed a boatload of corporate fraud. He did this while AT&T was “systematically overcharging the neediest schools” for Internet access.
The Biden administration has made efforts to fix what the GOP broke. They’ve put a lot of money into infrastructure bills earmarked for broadband. By providing money for broadband and internet access for low-income households, including a $50 emergency broadband program during the pandemic, the Democratic Party is once again proving itself to be the only political party between the two in our system that is willing to seems to be actually trying and correcting some of our country’s inequalities.
There are some issues that need to be overcome before government can more fully achieve a broader connection for all Americans. This includes creating a more accurate mapping of who has access to broadband infrastructure and who does not. However, in any case, it would be a step in the right direction to regulate and hold large telecommunications companies to account.
According to a new study, 30% of US kids don’t have enough internet access to learn from home
The hiccups in bridging the digital divide will be government’s poor maps
Low-income families can now get up to $50 a month in broadband subsidies
The FCC just voted to kick 70% of people out of their low-income broadband plans
Mississippi officials say AT&T took $283 million to provide broadband and pocketed the money