State AGs, Senate Democrats, Other Groups Aiming for Net Neutrality Reversal

Multiple stakeholder groups have taken action against the Federal Communications Commission’s controversial vote a month ago to repeal net neutrality rules. Twenty-two state attorneys general (AG) filed a petition with the US Court of Appeals in Washington, DC.

The lawsuit by the AGs—including officials from New York, California, and the District of Columbia—argue that the FCC’s decision is “arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion.”

The FCC’s vote last month reversed a policy set by the Obama administration that compelled internet service providers (ISPs) to “treat all content equally and not give preference to some digital content providers. That means the consumer can load every website, app, video, .gif, etc., equally, regardless of where the content is hosted,” as ABC News put it. Although the FCC claims that the decision does not harm internet access—and associated costs—to healthcare providers, health IT stakeholders anticipate problems.

In an article to be published in the March 2018 issue of the Journal of AHIMA, Allison Viola, MBA, RHIA, writes that:

“Since the adoption and use of telemedicine has gained traction both in terms of reimbursement and technology use, this data-heavy technology relies heavily on the internet to connect patients to their providers and even remote monitoring. Providers that have the resources to do so can improve their infrastructure and pay for a ‘fast lane,’ allowing for more reliable and faster internet service. But smaller healthcare providers and those in rural communities that do not have similar resources will potentially experience a weakened and slower service, negatively impacting patient care and certainty in the service.”

Other groups, including The Open Technology Institute, Free Press, and Mozilla have filed similar petitions.

Additionally, all 49 Senate Democrats and one Republican, support legislation aimed at reinstating the Obama-era rules. But even if the Democrats succeeded in getting enough votes in their chamber, it would be an uphill climb in the Republican-dominated House of Representatives.

Mary Butler is the associate editor at The Journal of AHIMA.

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