The California Lifeline Program

March 9, 2023

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California’s Lifeline program is widely recognized as one of the most successful state Lifeline programs and therefore constitutes an important case for the MEDIA project to study. This report examines the history and characteristics of California Lifeline, including historical participation rates, the program’s targeting efficiency, and barriers to enrollment. It identifies the following three main takeaways. Firstly. there is a predominance of wireless participants over wireline participants. Second, participation rates diverge across California with participation greater in PUMAs where there were higher poverty levels, lower internet connectivity, higher proportion of African American population, and higher unemployment rates. Thirdly, there is a potential to increasing participation rates through automated renewals through direct connections with other public-assistance program databases including Medicaid/Medi-Cal, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Income, and Supplemental Security Income.