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It is possible to get a Medicaid cell phone. The Link Up and Lifeline programs have teamed up to provide Medicaid cell phones to qualifying low-income households. The Lifeline program discounts the phone service and Link Up discounts the start-up cost. Both of these programs are supported by the federal USF (Universal Service Fund.)

The discount varies from state to state (up to $10 per month) on the monthly phone service is applied to a basic cell phone service plan for Medicaid-qualifying recipients. There are other ways to qualify for these discounted phone services. Federal regulations limit the recipient to only ONE Lifeline service at a time. While a Medicaid recipient may qualify for a cell phone or a land line, the federal rule limits the discounts to only one-not both-for the same recipient. For any state that follows the federal eligibility criteria for the Lifeline and Link Up programs, the person must meet one of two criteria:

 Income is at or below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines.

 Participate in certain assistance programs including Medicaid, Food Stamps, SSI, Section 8 Housing, Low-Income Energy Assistance Program, TANF, or National Free School Lunch Program.

For 2011, the Federal Poverty Guidelines are as follows:

Persons in Family or Household live below 135% FPG

Number of people in household:

1 $14,702

2 $19,859

3 $25,016

4 $30,173

(Source: Federal Register, Vol. 76, No. 13, January 20, 2011, pp. 3637–3638)

If a person is eligible for Medicaid, then that individual is also eligible for the Medicaid cell phone program (Lifeline and Link Up.)

For additional information and complete eligibility guidelines, check out the USAC website at http://www.usac.org/li/low-income/ or call 1-888-641-8722. Other sources of information include calling a phone service provider for your local area, your own state’s public service commission (PSC) or the FCC at 1-888-CALL-FCC. Visit the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners website, (http://naruc.org/) or look in your local phone directory’s Blue Pages or government section for your state’s PSC contact information. To find someone to help you navigate all the red tape, visit www.nasuca.org/archive/about/membdir.php.

If you qualify for Medicaid, then you qualify for a Medicaid cell phone. Check out the links or make the call today to get your Medicaid cell phone.

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