New plans from internet providers are part of the Biden administration’s effort to increase access to broadband and reach more users, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).
What’s happening: “Twenty internet providers, including AT&T Inc. [and] Comcast Corp. … agreed to improve subsidized high-speed internet plans they offer to millions of unconnected households.”
- The move is part of the Affordable Connectivity Program that was launched as part of last year’s bipartisan infrastructure plan.
- The infrastructure plan allocated $14 billion to the program as part of the effort to bolster America’s broadband network.
The goal: The Affordable Connectivity Program has failed to reach most of its eligible subscribers because people most in need have no access to the internet and aren’t aware that they’re eligible for a major discount. An important part of the new plans is ensuring that they’re accessible to the most users.
- “Many of the companies, which cover more than 80% of the U.S. population, agreed Monday to either boost the internet speeds that they offer through the program or to cut their rates to $30 a month for low-income and other households that qualify.”
Who’s eligible: An estimated 48 million households are eligible for the subsidy. According to the Federal Communications Commission, about 11.5 million households have already signed up for the subsidy.
- The Biden administration has launched a new website, GetInternet.gov, to provide information to Americans about signing up for the subsidies.
The NAM’s view: The NAM has been a strong supporter of expanded access to broadband for years, citing its importance in the policy blueprint “Building to Win.”
ANN ARBOR, MICH. – The National Association of Manufacturers announced today that it will offer an association health plan to its members, extending affordable health care to small and medium-sized manufacturing companies and member associations in approved states. In states where the association health plan is not available, the NAM will connect manufacturers with available small-group options in their state.
“This association health plan is another step in our work to make the NAM a one-stop shop for manufacturing across the United States,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “With small and medium-sized businesses making up more than 90 percent of our membership, this plan will help provide health care and reduce uncertainty for workers and their employers across the country.”
The plan, called NAM Health Care (www.namhealthcare.com), was developed to meet manufacturers’ unique health care needs. It will offer a portfolio of health benefits options insured by UnitedHealthcare. In states where these plans are available, businesses with 2 to 99 employees will be able to choose from a variety of PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) and HSA (Health Savings Account) health plans. Members will also have access to UnitedHealthcare’s Choice Plus care provider network of more than 1.2 million physicians and care professionals and 6,500 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. UnitedHealthcare will work with any licensed or appointed agents who want to sell NAM Health Care.
In addition, Mercer will provide the NAM’s small business members with consulting services regarding health benefits offerings and contribution strategies, marketing support to educate and enroll their employees, plan administration and compliance services. The Mercer Affinity 365+sm platform will provide members technology for quoting, enrollment and ongoing benefits administration to drive cost efficiencies and facilitate employee engagement.
Association health plans allow companies to band together to manage and purchase health care coverage that may save on annual health insurance costs by providing plans that are typically enjoyed by larger companies at a competitive price. Under NAM Health Care, eligible member companies also will have access to supplemental benefits, including dental, vision and life.
“The work that manufacturers are doing every day grows the economy and strengthens our country, and they deserve the health care they need to do that job with certainty and support,” said Timmons. “At the NAM, we are proud to help lower costs and increase competitive health coverage for the men and women who make things in America.”
NAM Health Care is quoting these plans for eligible member groups for a Sept. 1, 2019, enrollment date. To enroll in these plans, where available, interested businesses may visit www.namhealthcare.com.