Family physicians to FCC: Net neutrality is 'paramount' for US healthcare

The Federal Communications Commission's proposal to overturn net neutrality legislation may lead to unintended healthcare consequences, the American Academy of Family Physicians wrote in a July 13 letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

Net neutrality rules, which were established in 2015, "[prohibit] broadband providers from elevating one kind of content over another," according to The New York Times. The FCC's proposed rule, titled "Restoring Internet Freedom," would make this decision voluntary, allowing companies to prioritize the types of content they provide at their own discretion.

The AAFP wrote the proposed rule may allow broadband providers to restrict the flow of health information. To address this issue, the organization asked Mr. Pai to ensure broadband providers do not place additional fees or constraints on the exchange of health information.

The organization argues the proposed rule is of particular concern to individuals in rural areas. Rural residents often have limited choice in internet-service providers, as a few companies hold a monopoly on regional broadband access.

"The internet forms the backbone on which the healthcare industry is building capabilities for health information exchange," AAFP wrote. "Lack of health information exchange is literally life-threatening. It is paramount for the health and well-being of U.S. citizens that no barriers be placed hindering the free and open appropriate exchange of health information."

Click here to view the full letter.

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