The $900 billion COVID relief package passed by Congress this month includes a $7 billion broadband Internet investment. The bill sets aside funding to help low-income families pay for reliable Internet service. It also includes millions for telehealth and for creating up-to-date broadband coverage maps.
While he has called for additional aid, including increasing the amount of the direct payments to Americans, Congressman Jim Clyburn (D-SC), did praise the relief package and said it includes critical support for South Carolina communities.
“It is especially essential during this pandemic that every American have affordable access to health care, education, housing, Internet, and economic opportunity,” said Congressman Clyburn. “The investments in this bill will make progress in all of these areas throughout South Carolina and the Sixth Congressional District.”
In addition to the $7 billion for broadband Internet expansion, the bill appropriates more than $730 million for rural broadband investment through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to a news release from Clyburn’s office. Another $3.2 billion will help low-income families to afford Internet service. More funds will pay for the replacement of equipment and support Internet connectivity on tribal lands.
The package includes $250 million to support telehealth. Some of those funds will go to The Medical University of South Carolina’s Center for Telehealth. The MUSC Center is one of only two National Telehealth Centers of Excellence in the country. It provides telehealth services in 44 South Carolina counties, including school-based health clinics which open up health care access to students.
“We cannot have effective delivery of health care without broadband,” said Congressman Clyburn. “We cannot have the kind of educational experiences that our children need without broadband. I think broadband is going to be to the 21st century what electricity was to the 20th century.”