The following are highlights of provisions included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that may affect hospitals and health systems and the communities they serve.
Grants to states for deployment: $42.45 billion
- This funding supports a formula-based grant program to states, territories and the District of Columbia for the purposes of broadband deployment. The program does not favor particular technologies or providers. Projects would have to meet a minimum download/upload build standard of 100/20 megabits per second.
- The funding includes 10% set-aside for high-cost areas and each state and territory receives an initial minimum allocation, a portion of which could be used for technical assistance and supporting or establishing a state broadband office.
- To increase affordability, all funding recipients have an obligation to offer a low cost plan as a condition of receiving funding.
- States would be required to have enforceable plans to address all of their unserved areas before they are able to fund deployment projects in underserved areas. After both unserved and underserved areas are addressed, states may use funds for anchor institution projects.
Private Activity Bonds (PABs): $600 million
- Based on the Rural Broadband Financing Flexibility Act (S.1676), this provision allows states to issue PABs to finance broadband deployment, specifically for projects in rural areas where a majority of households do not have access to broadband.
Additional Support for Rural Areas: $2 billion
- The provision includes support for programs administered by the Department of Agriculture, including the ReConnect Program, that provide loans and grants (or a combination of loans and grants) to fund the construction, acquisition or improvement of facilities and equipment that provide broadband service in rural areas.
“Middle Mile”: $1 billion
- This provision would create a grant program for the construction, improvement or acquisition of middle-mile infrastructure. Eligible entities include telecommunications companies, technology companies, electric utilities, utility cooperative, etc. The “middle mile” refers to the installation of a dedicated line that transmits a signal to and from an internet Point of Presence. Competition of middle-mile routes is necessary to reach unserved areas, reduce capital expenditures and lower operating costs.
Tribal Grants: $2 billion
- This provision will provide additional funding to the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, which was established by the December COVID-19 relief package and is administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Grants from this program will be made available to eligible Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian entities for broadband deployment as well as for digital inclusion, workforce development, telehealth and distance learning.
Inclusion: $2.75 billion
- Establishes two NTIA-administered grant programs (formula based and competitive) to promote digital inclusion and equity for communities that lack the skills, technologies and support needed to take advantage of broadband connections. Grants can be used to accelerate the adoption of broadband through digital literacy training, workforce development, devices access programs, and other digital inclusion measures. The legislation also tasks NTIA with evaluating digital inclusion projects and providing policymakers at the local, state and federal levels with detailed information about which projects are most effective.
Affordability: $14.2 billion
- This provision creates a permanent, sustainable Affordable Connectivity Benefit to ensure low-income families can access the internet. The program provides a $30 per month voucher for low-income families to use toward any internet service plan of their choosing. It builds on the Emergency Broadband Benefit, making the benefit permanent and expanding eligibility to help more low-income households, while also making it more sustainable for taxpayers.
Cyber Response and Recovery Fund: $100 million
- This provision allows the Secretary of Homeland Security to declare a Significant Incident following a breach of public and private networks and a fund that allows the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to provide direct support to public or private entities as they respond and recover from significant cyberattacks and breaches. Funded at $20 million per year over five years, any unused funds remain available until expended with the program ending Sept. 30, 2028.
State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial (SLTT) Grant Program: $1 billion
- Allocated over four years, these funds are available until expended and will establish a new grant program to provide federal assistance to SLTT entities. The current grant programs to provide cybersecurity assistance to SLTT entities has inherent flaws that this program will address. The program will be administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in consultation with CISA acting as the subject matter expert.
Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate for Research and Development - $157.5 million
- These funds will include support for specific areas of research related to risk assessments; cybersecurity vulnerability testing; and positioning, navigation, and timing capabilities over five years.
CISA Sector Risk Management: $35 million
- This is a one-time investment in fiscal year 2022 for CISA to establish a capability to oversee and execute cross-sector governance to support CISA’s national cross-sector coordination role.
Office of the National Cyber Director: $21 million
- The National Cyber Director was sworn in to office July 14, 2021. This office does not currently have appropriated funds. This will fully fund the office through FY 2022.
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