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The end of the Affordable Care Program (ACP) in May left a significant number of people at risk of losing access to broadband. Empowerus is trying to help soften the blow with a unique set of benefits that they believe constitute a replacement for the ACP.

Empowerus and the Secure Card Association of America (SCAA) are partnering to provide a bundle of benefits to eligible households, according to the company’s website.

“Many low-income communities and communities of color rely on pre-paid and secured cards to conduct the business of daily life,” says the site. “But the products available to these underserved communities lack any additional benefits to help them handle the emergencies that life inevitably bring[s]. We’ve created a robust program of life-changing benefits that increases loyalty by being there for our customers when times are tough.”

Empowerus participants can opt for several benefits, including:

  • A mobile phone replacement with a $25 deductible.
  • A discount pharmacy program with savings of up to 70% to 80%.
  • A guaranteed $10,000 life insurance policy.

Empowerus is billing itself as an answer to the loss of ACP benefits. “We have a solution for ACP,” said Empowerus founder Jeff DeHaven in an email to industry contacts.

While it’s not immediately obvious why Empowerus is an ACP replacement, their delivery mechanism provides the answer: Details of Empowerus’ benefits will be pushed out via an app embedded on existing ACP tablets, so people eligible for the ACP will be aware of these new benefits.

Empowerus is the rare company outside the broadband industry that is developing ACP replacement benefits. Within the industry, many companies are already helping those disenfranchised by the demise of the ACP. Just last week, Vermont-based Burlington Telecom introduced two low-cost programs. Larger providers — such as TDS Telecom, Verizon and T-Mobile — also are reacting.

Last month, President Biden lauded 14 service providers that were offering some form of relief. A partial list of those who have taken steps included Altafiber, Altice (Optimum), Astound, AT&T, Comcast, Cox, Mediacom and Starry.

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