The failure of the AHCA is a victory for the American people – National Consumers League

j_johnson92.jpgSpotlight on Health Care Series, Part 2: As America’s health care system is facing uncertainty, NCL staff is exploring the topic in a new weekly blog series.

Ding dong, the bill is dead! Democrats, health advocates, patients, and consumers across the country are rejoicing after the GOP’s first attempt to repeal and replace major pieces of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) crashed and burned. Republicans ultimately could not coalesce around House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) American Health Care Act (AHCA) and, in a stunning turn of events, the bill was pulled from the House floor without a vote last Friday.While inability to build a solid block of support for the AHCA in Congress became painfully obvious over time, the American people made their disdain of the bill apparent from the start. In the weeks following its introduction, citizens from every corner of the nation fervently expressed their disgust with the attack being waged on their health care. By the time the would-be vote was to have taken place, the AHCA had a meager 17 percent public approval rating, according to a Quinnipiac poll. Though dismal, this figure is hardly surprising, as the bill did nothing to improve access to care or quality of coverage for a clear majority of Americans – and, in many cases, the bill would have left many worse off than before the ACA.

The AHCA touted several policy changes that would have undoubtedly wreaked havoc on our health care system. Paramount was the spending cap (read: MASSIVE CUT) on Medicaid, the defunding of Planned Parenthood, an exponential premium increase for older Americans, a cost shift from the federal government to states and their citizens, and a general rationing and reduction of care to cover massive tax cuts for the wealthy. Arguably, one of the bill’s most odious aspects was the elimination of the essential health benefits – a measure put on the table in a last-ditch effort to get the unyielding, far-right, so-called “Freedom Caucus” block of the House on board. The essential health benefits are 10 services the ACA requires all plans to cover, including maternity and newborn care, ambulatory services, preventive and wellness services, and substance use treatment that can address issues such as the opioid epidemic ravaging communities across the country. Women of child-bearing age would have experienced significantly higher health care costs due to the elimination of maternity care and contraception from the standard benefits package – and they would either have considerably higher premiums than their male counterparts or be forced to pay for their maternity care or contraceptive methods out-of-pocket.

In addition, the AHCA would have effectively gutted consumer health protections, particularly for patients with pre-existing conditions, by eliminating out-of-pocket caps and reinstating lifetime coverage limits. In the long run, adequate care would be far beyond the reach of many Americans who would be left with bare-bones coverage and a higher cost burden. What is worse, by 2026, 24 million Americans would lose their coverage altogether. Americans heard that message loud and clear and they didn’t like what they heard.

While we can breathe a sigh of relief that the ACA is still the law of the land, NCL is among the many groups that agree that the ACA needs some tweaks to make it work better for all Americans. Now more than ever, a bipartisan approach to bringing affordable care and coverage to ALL Americans is not only desired, but essential. Rather than trying to undermine the ACA, Republicans and Democrats should embrace this opportunity to work together to come up with solutions that address the current insufficiencies in health care and make our system one that works for everyone.

The defeat of the AHCA is a big victory for the American people. The persistence and hard work of everyday Americans who spoke up, who called their members of Congress, who attended rallies, wrote to their local papers, and used social media ultimately made the difference. The National Consumers League, which since our inception in 1899 has spoken up for consumers and supported health insurance for all Americans, is proud to have stood alongside our colleagues in the consumer and public health communities in this battle to defend our care and oppose policies that would send us backward. We will continue to fight to protect the ACA, preserve consumer health protections, and argue that it is good for the economy and good for America’s future if all of us have access to health care coverage.

NCL celebrates the withdrawal of the American Health Care Act – National Consumers League

March 24, 2017

Media contact: NCL Communications, Cindy Hoang,, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC–The following statement can be attributed to Sally Greenberg:

The National Consumers League joins with our colleagues in the consumer and public health communities in breathing a huge sigh of relief that the Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has failed. The GOP bill, entitled the “American Health Care Act,”  would have been a devastating blow to health care and would have taken America in the wrong direction, resulting in millions of consumers losing health coverage and paying more for less.

However, we recognize that the battle is not over. The National Consumers League will continue to fight to protect the ACA, Medicare, and Medicaid, and oppose efforts to roll back critical consumer health protections.


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit

NCL applauds 6-2 Supreme Court decision favoring workers – National Consumers League

March 24, 2017

Media contact: NCL Communications, Cindy Hoang,, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL) is welcoming the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Czyzewski v. Jevic Holding Corporation, in which the Court ruled that a bankruptcy settlement that effectively wiped out employee claims against a trucking company while paying off more junior creditors impermissibly sidestepped the U.S. Bankruptcy Code’s creditor priority.

“This is great news for workers,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of NCL, which submitted an amicus brief with the National Employment Law Project (NELP) in the case.

Jevic Transportation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after being purchased in a leveraged buyout.

The amicus brief signed by NCL and NELP argued that:

“This case both illustrates and aggravates the pervasive problem of workplace injustices due to unequal bargaining power. Unlike many wage-earners, the nearly 1,800 truck driver employees of Jevic represented by petitioners have been able to sustain this lengthy and expensive litigation because they are well organized and have been well represented, including by pro bono counsel. However, they have still received no relief on their claim for accrued but unpaid wages and benefits more than seven years after they were laid off without notice in violation of state law. The structured dismissal order sanctioned by the Third Circuit has opened a bankruptcy loophole enabling their employer to escape without paying them. This represents an additional opportunity for wage theft – employers failing to pay employees what they have earned, without effective accountability – at a time when, as U.S. Department of Labor and independent studies collected by NELP reflect, wage theft has reached epidemic proportions nationwide. Unless this Court acts to close it, the bankruptcy loophole opened by the decision below is likely to result in many thousands of additional employees being denied what they have earned. Moreover, as with other forms of wage theft, the vast majority of those employees will not have the bargaining power to secure their rights or the resources to bring the problems to the courts’ attention.”

The workers’ priority claims entitle them to receive over $8 million, but collection is conditioned on the estate having those funds and it might not, so this is not a sure thing. Nevertheless, the principle behind the decision is what is critical.

“NCL believes that the Supreme Court has vindicated the claims of these workers,” said Greenberg. “And a 6-2 decision reversing the Third Circuit, with only Justices Alito and Thomas dissenting, sends a clear message that the Court recognizes the rights of employees under the U.S. Bankruptcy Codes.“


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit

Senate vote on broadband privacy threatens consumers’ data security – National Consumers League

March 24, 2017

Media Contact: NCL Communications, Cindy Hoang,, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The Senate’s vote Thursday to repeal the Federal Communications Commission’s broadband privacy rules is a disappointing step that threatens to make consumers’ data less secure. At a time when data breaches routinely expose consumers to identity theft and other fraud, according to advocates at the National Consumers League (NCL), it is extremely disheartening that the Senate would seek to obliterate strong consumer data security requirements.

The following statement is attributable to John Breyault, NCL’s vice president of public policy, telecommunications and fraud:

Not a day goes by that we aren’t reminded of the costs of failing to secure consumers’ data from criminal and state-sponsored hacking. It is clear that data breaches raise the risk of identity fraud for millions of consumers. This being the case, it is inconceivable that the Senate would seek to eviscerate strong data security standards put in place by the FCC’s broadband privacy rules.

Broadband providers are uniquely positioned in the Internet ecosystem, with access to vast amounts of consumer data. They are therefore especially vulnerable targets for those who would seek unauthorized access to consumers’ sensitive personal information. That is why NCL supported the FCC’s common-sense broadband privacy rules, which for the first time require ISPs to provide reasonable protections for consumers’ data.

We urge pro-consumer members of the House of Representatives to heed the appeals of pro-privacy and pro-security advocates and resist efforts to gut these critically important consumer protections.


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit

Trump’s budget is out of sync with America – National Consumers League


The president’s approval ratings are at an historically-low 39 percent according to the latest polls. Yet, despite this lack of popularity with the American people, the Trump Administration has delivered a budget to Congress that slashes many longstanding programs that are wildly popular across the country and will significantly reduce meaningful services provided to consumers.

Meals on Wheels, the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, and critical after-school programs are all under attack. Under the Trump budget, 19 programs would be totally eliminated, including the Appalachian Regional Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Public Broadcasting Corporation. Yes, no more “Muppets” or “Masterpiece Theater.”

Much of the discretionary spending being cut actually supports important and necessary programs like housing and child care assistance for low- and moderate-income families, protections for workers and consumers, education, basic research, and job training. These are budget items that invest in the future of America.

Additionally, the Trump budget is proposing to completely gut the Labor Department’s programs to eliminate child and forced labor worldwide – something that we at the National Consumers League (NCL) have been fighting to eradicate since our founding in 1899. NCL’s Child Labor Coalition was created in 1989 to stamp out the worst forms of child labor and protect teen workers from workplace hazards. And although President Trump believes that this is unnecessary spending, there has been a one-third reduction in global child labor rates over the past 20 years, while the U.S. has been the biggest funder of child labor elimination programs worldwide.

Mick Mulvaney, the president’s budget director, defended the cuts at a White House briefing, calling the programs “not well run” and saying that they “don’t do any good.” The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would also be slashed by 31 percent. Mulvaney says about funding for climate change, “We’re not spending money on that anymore,” and calls the EPA’s efforts to reduce global warming a “waste of money.” Military spending would increase by $54 billion. No concern about fraud and waste there apparently.  

And consider this…the EPA provides emergency assistance to local communities many times during the year. In Toledo, tests showed the presence of a dangerous chemical in the city’s water that causes liver cancer. In Corpus Christi, chemicals from asbestos plant leaked into the water. A fire in Bridgewater, Connecticut caused a chemical spill requiring the EPA’s help. In each of these cases, the agency’s expertise and resources were critical to addressing these dire threats to the public’s health. These local communities have neither the money nor the scientific expertise to deal with the problem.

We have so many excellent scientists, doctors, lawyers, statisticians, and researchers at our federal agencies. These professionals have devoted their careers to protecting the public. There’s no replacing their training or expertise if we cut them from the budget. 

Thankfully, the president’s budget is only a proposal, and one that has to be acted on by Congress. But if even some of what is proposed gets passed, the consequences for consumers and workers will be catastrophic. The Labor Department is to be cut by 21 percent and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by 18 percent. That latter move would be in direct conflict with the funding increases passed overwhelmingly last Congress for NIH in the 21st Century Cures bill; Congress wants NIH helping to develop cures for diseases. 

The public has expectations that our government will take care of its citizens – like the Department of Health and Human Services will provide Social Security and Medicare, that the EPA will come to the rescue of local communities, that our interstates, roads, and bridges will receive federal subsidies. It’s clear that the Trump Administration’s budget would have profoundly negative effects on millions of Americans across the country and would hit families that are already struggling the hardest.

Medicaid per-capita caps: A recipe for disaster – National Consumers League

j_johnson92.jpgSpotlight on Health Care Series, Part 1: As America’s health care system is facing uncertainty, NCL staff is exploring the topic in a new weekly blog series.

No matter how you slice it, the proposed changes to Medicaid in the GOP’s new health care bill are not a spending compromise–but rather a massive cut in funding that will decimate the Medicaid program as we know it.House Republicans recently introduced the American Health Care Act (AHCA) as a first step in fulfilling their promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The AHCA would cut $880 billion in federal support for state Medicaid programs over the next decade, while dramatically altering the funding structure of Medicaid from a flexible federal entitlement to a rigid per-capita cap. Under the current system, the federal government matches state Medicaid spending as enrollment increases and health care needs change. The new plan proposed by Republicans would cap federal funding solely based on the number of Medicaid enrollees.

This cap would not match the dynamic nature of health care. If Medicaid spending increases–perhaps due to a natural disaster, a sudden disease epidemic, or even a breakthrough drug the state wants to cover–states would be left to foot the bill for any costs over the strict per-person cap. This policy also makes Medicaid particularly susceptible to deeper cuts in the future; if Congress succeeds in divorcing federal support from the actual cost of providing health care, it will have greater liberty to continue to slash funding over time to generate more federal savings.

Republicans assert that the capping approach will slow the growth of Medicaid and expand states’ flexibility to innovate and provide patients with the care they want. The reality is, rather than curtailing spending, the costs will simply shift away from the federal government and onto the backs of state governors–sending state budgets into turmoil and placing millions of Americans at risk. Ultimately, states will be faced with the choice of raising taxes on their residents to meet funding needs, cutting funding from critical programs such as infrastructure or education, or imposing devastating cuts to Medicaid eligibility, benefits, and coverage for millions.

Among those most severely affected by a Medicaid spending cap are rural communities, where at least one-quarter of residents rely on public insurance. Several health crises already plague this population, including the onset of disease in coal workers and the Opioid epidemic. These issues, among many others, have contributed to a spike in the mortality rate of lower and middle class white Americans, and a huge reduction in federal funding would only further limit states’ ability to respond.  Capping will also have negative ramifications for children, who account for approximately 40 percent of the Medicaid population. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a slash in funding for Medicaid will have devastating consequences for children’s health, educational attainment, and earning potential, leading to long term damage to state economies. In short, this colossal overhaul of Medicaid would jeopardize health care for our country’s most vulnerable populations.

Today, 70 million low-income and disabled Americans rely on Medicaid to fulfill its guarantee to provide coverage for all eligible men, women, and children just as it has done for over 50 years. The GOP proposal reneges on that guarantee. Capping funding for a program that serves as an essential lifeline for so many will not lead to a more efficient health system or healthier Americans–it’s a recipe for disaster.

NCL urges Congress to reject GOP health plan – National Consumers League

March 14, 2017

Media Contact: NCL Communications, Cindy Hoang,, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL) urges Congress to reject the House GOP’s health insurance plan, which would result in millions of Americans losing coverage and paying more for less. In a report released yesterday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that 24 million Americans would lose health coverage by 2026 under the House Republicans’ plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

NCL’s Executive Director Sally Greenberg said, “It’s indefensible to deny health insurance to sick people, but that is exactly what the Republican plan would do. How can we as a nation tell 24 million Americans–many of whom have health insurance today because of the ACA–that they will no longer have coverage?”    

In addition to this loss in coverage, the CBO report found that consumers would pay more out-of-pocket for skimpier coverage. Under the Republican plan, tax credits for eligible individuals purchasing non-group coverage will be 60 percent lower in 2020, meaning that consumers will have to pay more out-of-pocket towards their premium costs. Furthermore, due to plans’ lower average actuarial values (the share of a person’s health costs that a plan covers), CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) expect that “individuals’ cost-sharing payments, including deductibles, in the non-group market would tend to be higher than those anticipated under current law.” This finding directly contradicts President Trump’s promise that his repeal plan would lead to much lower deductibles.

The CBO report also found that the Republican proposal would result in an $880 billion cut in federal support for state Medicaid programs over the next decade–effectively shifting these costs onto the backs of the states and beneficiaries. With such a sharp decrease in federal support for Medicaid, states will have no choice but to cut eligibility, benefits, and/or provider payment rates. 

“The CBO report confirms the harms that would result from implementation of the utterly immoral Republican health plan. It is a step in the wrong direction for our nation’s consumers and must be rejected,” said Greenberg.      


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit

The National Consumers League welcomes the nomination of Dr. Scott Gottlieb as Commissioner of the FDA – National Consumers League

March 13, 2017

Media Contact: NCL Communications, Cindy Hoang,, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s pioneering consumer advocacy organization, welcomes Dr. Scott Gottlieb’s nomination to lead the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “The FDA is the gold standard the world over for ensuring the highest standards of safety and efficacy of drugs and we believe Dr. Gottlieb understands the importance of maintaining those standards. We are also pleased that Dr. Gottlieb shares NCL’s strong support for life-saving vaccines. If he is confirmed, we look forward to working with Dr. Gottlieb to advance the cause of medication adherence and bringing more generic and biosimilar drugs to market, which will add to competition in the market and drive down drug prices for consumers,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL’s executive director. Greenberg noted that as someone who has himself battled cancer, Gottlieb brings the patient perspective and understands the importance of safe and effective medicines firsthand.

NCL works to promote food safety and nutrition, which is also overseen by the FDA, and has worked closely with the agency on health policy issues of critical importance to consumer safety.

Sally Greenberg is also a board member of the Reagan Udall Foundation. Greenberg noted, “I also look forward to working with Dr. Gottlieb in support of RUF’s mission to build public-private partnerships and enhance the FDA’s research and regulatory science work and capacities.”  


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit

National Consumers League statement of support for SEAT Act of 2017 – National Consumers League

March 9, 2017

Contact: NCL Communications, Cindy Hoang,, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL), America’s pioneering consumer and worker advocacy organization, applauds the House and Senate introduction of the Seat Egress in Air Travel (SEAT) Act of 2017. This bill, introduced by Senators Blumenthal (D-CT), Schumer (D-NY), Markey (D-MA), Menendez (D-NJ), and Feinstein (D-CA) and Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN), and Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) would establish airline seat size minimums that will protect the health and safety of consumers. NCL urges Congress to quickly pass this important consumer protection legislation.

The following statement is attributable to John Breyault, Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications and Fraud: 

“As anyone forced to squeeze themselves into ever-smaller airline seats can attest, consumers continue to face comfort, health and safety issues while flying. In addition to causing poor circulation, many safety experts fear that the airlines’ reduction in seat size compiled with flying fuller airplanes could hinder their safe evacuation. The SEAT act provides a common sense solution to this problem by requiring safety experts to set minimum seat size standards. We applaud the bipartisan and bicameral leadership shown by the sponsors of this bill.” 


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit


Caffeine Awareness Month: Myth-busting and fact-checking – National Consumers League

coffee_icon.jpgWhether you’re working an 8-hour day, at home with the kids, or even trying to burn some excess calories at the gym after work, caffeine is usually within close reach, in one form or another. Within close reach there’s also a multitude of information. But how much of this is true? And, where are the information gaps for consumers?

For the third consecutive year during March, we take a closer look at caffeine – this time fact checking those myths and arming you with some truths that will help you make informed choices. And urging better consumer information, namely that the label of caffeinated products should include amount of caffeine in the products.

1.  Americans are drinking more caffeine than ever before

FALSE! Despite concerns expressed about proliferation of caffeine in the food supply, statistics indicate that there has not been an overall increase in caffeine intake in the United States in recent years. The principal dietary sources of caffeine also remain the same, with most intake of caffeine remaining from coffee, tea, and soda. This is consistent with a recent FDA-sponsored study that found between 70 and 90 percent of caffeine intake is from coffee and tea.

2.  Slamming down a caffeinated drink quickly will have more of an effect than sipping it slowly

FALSE! Whether you are on the go and consume a drink quickly, or like to sit and enjoy a drink with friends, there is no difference in caffeine’s effect on you. However, the speed of your own metabolism may influence digestion time.

3.  Added caffeine is stronger than naturally occurring sources of caffeine

FALSE! Caffeine is caffeine! There is no chemical or biological difference between the naturally-occurring caffeine in plants – like in coffee, tea, and chocolate – and synthetic caffeine commonly used in sodas, energy drinks, and supplements.

4.  Dogs and cats should not consume caffeine

TRUE! While 85 percent of human Americans drink coffee everyday, 100 percent of our furry friends must be kept away from sources of caffeine. Dogs, cats, and birds are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than people are, and even the smallest amount (depending on breed, weight and other factors) can have severe consequences.

5.  Dark roasted coffee is stronger than lighter roasts

FALSE! Contrary to what many people assume, the darker the coffee roast, the LESS caffeine it has. This is because caffeine is heat sensitive, so if you roast coffee beans longer, they will contain less caffeine. For tea, it’s the opposite: the darker the tea, the higher the caffeine content.

6.  Guarana is just another form of caffeine

TRUE! Caffeine is found naturally in over 60 plants including coffee beans, cocoa beans, tea leaves, kola nuts, yerba mate, and guarana.

7.  Three cups per day is the maximum amount of coffee an adult should consume

IT DEPENDS… on the type of coffee, the size of your cup, and even how it was prepared. One thing’s for sure: the FDA, Health Canada, and the European Food Safety Authority all acknowledge that 400mg of caffeine per day is a moderate safe daily intake amount for healthy adults. How much is 400mg in terms of cups or servings? See below from lowest to highest caffeine concentration:

  • 16.6 servings of green tea (8 oz./24 mg caffeine)
  • 11.5 servings of brand cola (8 oz./average 35 mg caffeine)
  • 8.5 servings of black tea (8 oz./47 mg caffeine)
  • 5 servings of Red Bull energy drink (8 oz./80 mg caffeine)
  • 4.2 servings of  regular brewed coffee (8 oz./95.2 mg caffeine)
  • 2 servings of 5-Hour Energy (2 oz./200 mg caffeine)
  • <1 serving of energy shots (8 oz./average 480 mg caffeine)

8.  Energy Drinks contain large amounts of caffeine

FALSE!  The major energy drink brands (Red Bull and Monster) contain between 80 to 120 mg caffeine per serving.  For comparison purposes, a cup of home brewed coffee contains approximately 80 mg per cup while a store bought cold brew coffee can have up to 250 mg.  An 8-oz. energy shot contains 480 mg caffeine.

9.  Some people should limit their caffeine consumption 

TRUE! Caffeine sensitive people, pregnant women, those who are capable of becoming pregnant, and those who are breastfeeding should consult their health care providers for advice concerning caffeine consumption. Children and teens should generally consume less caffeine due to lower body weight than adults (and parents should monitor). 

10.  All caffeine products declare the amount of caffeine they contain

FALSE! NCL believes that ALL products containing caffeine – no matter whether naturally occurring, contained in a cup, a can, or a candy bar wrapper – should declare the amount of caffeine on the label.

While the FDA requires food labels to disclose added caffeine as an ingredient, the label is not required to provide the amount of caffeine. Very few products list the amount of caffeine they contain, although some companies, like Red Bull and Monster, provide this information voluntarily.

But, would it be so hard for all producers to provide caffeine content on the information panel?

National Nutrition Month is an annual initiative led by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  DISCLOSURE: While researching facts for this blog, approximately 220 mg of caffeine (3 cups of cappuccino) was consumed!