Washington, D.C. — NAAG sent a letter asking Congress to help ensure that all Americans have the home internet connectivity necessary to participate in telemedicine, teleschooling, and telework as part of any additional legislation that provides relief and recovery resources related to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.
As U.S. residents know after weeks of learning, working, socializing, and seeking healthcare from home during COVID-19, internet access is critical for basic needs.
“The COVID-19 pandemic triggered unprecedented disruptions to our educational and healthcare systems, as well as the broader economy and core social activities. In many cases, individuals were able to compensate by moving online to learn, work, and obtain healthcare services. In other cases, however, longstanding disparities in household access to high-speed internet and mobile devices prevented individuals from taking advantage of these opportunities,” reads the letter signed by 39 attorneys general.
“Unless Congress acts quickly, disparities in access to home internet connectivity will exacerbate existing gaps in educational and health outcomes along lines of geography, economic resources, and race.”
In the letter sent to Congressional leaders, the attorneys general urge Congress to:
- Provide state, territorial, and local governments with adequate funding expressly dedicated to ensuring that all students and patients, especially senior citizens who are at risk, have adequate internet-enabled technology to participate equally in online learning and telemedicine.
- Increase funding to the U.S. Federal Communication Commission Universal Service Fund, which provides vital funding to rural and low-income populations, healthcare providers, and educators with the goal of bridging the digital divide.