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News Release
 
Stay Connected!  You May Be Eligible for Help Paying Your Phone Bill
 
Sept. 11, 2009 (2009-012)
 
Contacts:  Lee Beyer, Chairman, 503 378-6611; Ray Baum, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; John Savage, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Valdez, Public Affairs Specialist, 503 378-8962
 
Salem, OR.  Stay connected! You may be eligible for help paying your telephone bill but may not be aware of it.
 
"We want to make sure that all eligible households in Oregon benefit from monthly savings on their phone bills," said Jon Cray, Program Manager at the Oregon Public Utility Commission. "It’s critical in these difficult economic times to be connected to family, jobs, and emergency services. Fortunately, there is a state program that makes telephone service affordable for qualifying low-income Oregonians.
 
The Oregon Telephone Assistance Program (OTAP) provides a discount on local basic telephone service of $13.50 a month or less to qualifying low-income customers.  OTAP is funded through a ratepayer surcharge and is provided by most telephone companies throughout the state.
 
Oregonians who receive one of the following qualifying benefits may receive a discount on their bill for local residential telephone service or cellular service: 
  • Food Stamps
  • Temporary Assistance to Needy Families
  • Supplemental Security Income
  • Certain State Medical Programs or Medicaid
OTAP currently serves about 45,000 Oregon residents.  “We think there are many more Oregonians who may be eligible but simply are not aware of the program. We hope they will contact us to benefit from our services,” Cray added.
 
The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) has proclaimed the week of September 14 – 20, 2009 as National Telephone Discount Lifeline Awareness Week.
 
“This is the first-ever National Telephone Discount Awareness Week event,” said Oregon Public Utility Commissioner Ray Baum, who chairs the NARUC Telecommunications Committee.  "Through this effort, we hope to bring as many qualified consumers as possible on board—no one should be without telephone service in this day and age.”
 
NARUC hopes the National Telephone Discount Lifeline Awareness Week will help get more consumers connected. NARUC is partnering with the Federal Communications Commission, the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates, and eligible telecommunications carriers to draw more low-income consumers into federal and State Lifeline and Link-up programs.
 
To enroll for OTAP, or call 1(800) 848-4442.
 
LINK-UP AMERICA: This program helps qualified low-income individuals by paying for one-half (up to $30) of the line-connection charges for new residential telephone service. 
 
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