Feds Fail At Funding Parity for Telehealth for Urban People

Media Advisory

June 24, 2020

 11.9 million urban household have no access to telehealth, but Federal agencies earmark billions for broadband and telehealth grants targeted to 3.8 million disconnected rural households. Urban communities demand parity with rural community for these grants that their tax dollars and telephone bills support.

COVID-19’s disproportionate killing of Black people has thrown into stark relief the many health issues afflicting this population, afflictions that telehealth can mitigate. People are marching in the streets saying “Black Lives Matter!” They also need to bring this to Federal agencies that fund the good health of rural communities while refusing to equally fund urban health.

Consumers cannot have telehealth without broadband. So any federal or state broadband funding that does not target urban constituents fails to deliver telehealth or broadband to them.

In the 111 largest US cities, African Americans and other people of color comprise 75% of the un-connected residents. These are populations that need telehealth the most. A third of the US has high blood pressure, but 43% of African-American women and a slightly less percentage of Black men suffer from hypertension. Twice as many Black people die from strokes as all other ethnic groups combined!

The FCC finances broadband through the $20 BILLION Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. The agency has a RuralHeath Care Program that’s being increased to over $1 billion this year, while the Senate wants to add another $2 billion to this fund. Two U.S. Senators propose $50 million to expand access to telehealth across rural America. Where is the parity?

A policy paper prepared by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) states, “The federal government’s existing broadband programs target tens of billions of dollars to expand broadband availability for residents of “unserved and underserved” rural areas, while studiously ignoring tens of millions of urban Americans who still lack high-speed internet service. It is structurally racist, discriminating against unconnected Black Americans and other communities of color.

Craig Settles is a industry analyst and consultant who assists cities and co-ops with business planning for broadband and telehealth. The NDIA organization is a unified voice for home broadband access, public broadband access, personal devices and local technology training and support programs.

Angela Seifer, Executive Director for NDIA discusses this funding inequity on Mr. Settles’ Gigabit Nation Internet radio talk show.


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  • Who’s Craig Settles?

    Industry analyst, expert broadband business strategist, runs on-site workshops to help clients create effective broadband plans.

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