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Over 1 Million Ohioans Use Free Phone Program

A government program that provides subsidized phone service to low-income individuals in Ohio has now topped over one million people, reports the Dayton Daily News.

The $26.9 million cost in the first quarter of 2012 is far more than the $15.6 million during the same quarter in 2011.

The government program is funded through the 'Universal Service Fund' charge on phone bills, a dollar or two on each phone bill.

According to the  Federal Communications Commission, the  total cost of the program nationwide was $1.5 billion in 2011, up from $1.1 billion in 2010.

Eligibility is dependent on having a low income or being in a program such as food stamps or heating assistance.

The program has reforms going into effect to cut down on fraud next year. The new rules would allow only one phone line per household, requires future applicants to prove they are eligible and makes people re-enroll each year instead of doing so automatically.

Next year, phone companies will have to check new applicants against a list of current enrollees to screen out duplicates.


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