Tags: obamaphone | maryland | program | doubles

Report: Questions Raised as Md. Obamaphone Program Doubles

By    |   Tuesday, 30 Sep 2014 07:26 AM

The number of Maryland residents using Obamaphones increased 100-fold in three years, according to a new report.

Between 2009 and 2012, the figure rose to 645,000 people, writes the Washington Examiner.  The report, however, says only about half that amount of people are eligible for the phones based on their income level.

The program, which is called Lifeline, is backed by the Federal Communications Commission and provides free cell phones to low-income Americans.

In theory, the phones are given out for use in an emergency and contain a limited amount of minutes and data for calling and text messaging. Regularly paying customers pay a fee on their monthly bills to subsidize the program.

The program has been rife with fraud, as many people provided false income information in order to obtain one or more phones from the government at no cost.Officials say there are now better checks in place they say will prevent fraud.

Companies that provide phones for the program are paid $9.25 per month from the government for each subscriber, according to the Examiner story. One of the providers is TracFone, a pre-paid wireless service owned by Carlos Slim — a billionaire and a fundraiser for President Obama.

A family of four must have an income of around $23,550 or less in order to qualify for the program.

"A family of four making $35,000 a year is paying for this. They can't get the free phone," Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) said in the Examiner article. "They might not go out to eat one night because that is an important priority that they have set, and it angers them when now they are paying somebody else's free cell phone bill.

"So I would hope when you are trying to think of what to do with the money that you are finally uncovering from waste, fraud, and abuse, you don't see it as some kind of honey pot that you can go and spend somewhere else."

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The number of Maryland residents using Obamaphones increased 100-fold in three years, according to a new report. Between 2009 and 2012, the figure rose to 645,000 people, writes the Washington Examiner. The report, however, says only about half that amount of people are...
obamaphone, maryland, program, doubles
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2014-26-30
Tuesday, 30 Sep 2014 07:26 AM
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