The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) has released an order, effective May 5, 2014, ordering the implementation of a web-based state Lifeline eligibility database. The development and ongoing maintenance costs for the database will be paid by New Jersey ETCs through a new licensing fee, the amount of which will be based on USAC disbursements. The order specifies no launch date for the database, which is to be developed by the New Jersey Office of Information Technology. All New Jersey ETCs will be required to utilize the database to verify eligibility prior to enrolling Lifeline subscribers.
In explaining the need for a state-specific eligibility database, the BPU described automated eligibility verification as crucial for detecting, preventing, and eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse. The BPU cited the fact that several states have already deployed their own eligibility databases, and noted that it appeared unlikely that a national eligibility database would be implemented "in the near term."
When launched, the New Jersey database will determine if potential Lifeline subscribers are eligible based on participation in various low-income programs, and will match potential subscribers against lists of program clients based on the subscriber's date of birth, last four Social Security Number digits, first seven letters of the first name, and first twelve letters of the last name. In doing so, it will draw on information from the the New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS) and its divisions including the Division of Family Development, Division of Medicaid and Health Services (DMAHS), and the Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled (PAAD) program.