NCL applauds White House efforts to expand vaccine rollout

For immediate release: February 22, 2021

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org(412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org(202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL) strongly supports the White House’s latest efforts to ramp up supplies to help expedite the national vaccine rollout plan. The Biden Administration has unveiled plans to mobilize federally-organized distribution channels to ensure Americans get as many shots in arms as possible. President Biden has promised to increase vaccine supply capacity to inoculate 100 million people within the first 100 days of his presidency. The ultimate goal is to have 300 million vaccines (600 million doses) in supply by this summer, which means that at least 50 percent of the population can be partially vaccinated by June. At this rate, we can expect that nearly 90 percent of the population will be fully vaccinated by December.

To meet these demands, the President has invoked the Defense Production Act to ramp up production of vaccines and personal protective equipment (PPE). The Administration has also partnered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to set up vaccination sites around the country. To help expand capacity and access to vulnerable communities, President Biden has galvanized Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) in the national response. As of February 15, FQHCs will receive supplies of the vaccines to reach individuals most at risk during the pandemic. Community pharmacies have also been engaged in rollout efforts to broaden access to historically disadvantaged communities, located farther from health services.

NCL appreciates the confidence this administration has placed in community health centers and pharmacies as a critical component in the national COVID-19 response.

“NCL has long recognized the vital role that pharmacists and other health professions play in our nation’s public health, through our decade of hosting the public health outreach campaign, Script Your Future,” said NCL Associate Director of Health Policy Nissa Shaffi. “We commend the Administration’s efforts to augment access to vaccines by leveraging federal and community resources. These newly-forged relationships will bring the nation closer to reaching herd immunity and making strides in achieving health equity.”

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)
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 www.nclnet.org.

National Consumers League calls on Administration to swiftly address PBMs’ role in diving up drug costs

For immediate release: February 3, 2021

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org(412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org(202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—Washington, DC – The National Consumers League encourages the Biden Administration to continue work on meaningful reforms that help drive down consumer out-of-pocket costs of medicines. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Monday announced the decision to delay a final rule on pharmaceutical rebates that would address critical issues in our healthcare system. The rule aims to lower out-of-pocket costs for consumers by eliminating anti-kickback safe harbors for drug rebates and offering them as direct-to-consumer discounts.

As HHS has demonstrated, the rebates, discounts, and fees negotiated between pharmaceutical companies and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) are rarely used to lower consumer out-of-pocket costs for medications. According to the new Senate Finance Committee report, some PBMs receive as much as 70 percent of insulin’s list price—demonstrating that PBMs can increase their profits when list prices are higher. By passing PBM rebates along to patients, savings at the pharmacy counter could be significant.

The following statement is attributable to NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg:

This delay is a major and preventable setback for consumers. We could be one step closer to significantly lowering out-of-pocket costs, but the government has delayed action. As we continue to face a global pandemic and economic challenges, it’s absolutely essential that we put the interests of consumers above all else—including PBMs.

“We must fix our broken drug pricing process, and HHS has identified one major flaw. The discounts these manufacturers offer to PBMs aren’t passed along to consumers as they should be. And PBMs continue to increase their fees, driving costs up even further. This rule would ensure that consumers—not large, corporate PBMs—save money on the medications they need.

Consumers deserve better, and NCL is committed to encouraging meaningful PBM reforms as soon as possible.

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)
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 www.nclnet.org.

National Consumers League welcomes appointment of Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel as Acting Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission

For immediate release: January 29, 2021

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org(412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org(202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL), America’s pioneering consumer and worker advocacy organization, welcomes the appointment of Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel to serve as acting chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Rosenworcel is the second woman to lead the agency in its 86-year history.

The following statement is attributable to NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg:

We welcome Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel’s appointment as Acting Chairwoman of the FCC. Her years of service at the Commission and on Capitol Hill make her an ideal choice for this position. She brings an in-depth understanding of the Commission, its committed and talented staff, and the agency’s relationship with Congress.

Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel is a strong proponent of consumer protections, net neutrality, and universal access to high speed broadband. Her appointment couldn’t  come at a better time; the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the chasm of access to high quality broadband in so many communities across America. Most critically, millions of students without affordable broadband access have suffered as schools have moved online during the past year. NCL is committed to working with Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel and her team to address this critical problem.

We are honored that Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel accepted NCL’s Trumpeter Award for consumer leadership in 2020. We welcome this strong consumer advocate who has always kept an open door for consumers from all backgrounds to discuss their concerns with the commission. We look forward to continuing to work with her and the talented FCC staff.

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)
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 www.nclnet.org.

The National Consumers League welcomes the appointment of consumer advocate and FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

For immediate release: January 29, 2021

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org(412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org(202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League welcomes President Biden’s nomination of Rohit Chopra, a current commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), to chair the  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

This following statement is attributable to Executive Director Sally Greenberg:

We are very pleased by President Biden’s nomination of Rohit Chopra to serve as director of the CFPB. At the FTC, Commissioner Chopra has proven to be a fair, thoughtful, and even-handed regulator with a strong record of defending the interests of consumers and pressing the agency to uphold its mandate by doing more to fight fraud and combat unfair and deceptive practices.

Chopra was on the ground floor as the CFPB was built. He was one of the first hires by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) when she took on the role as director of the—then—brand new agency. He brings a wealth of experience in the work of federal agencies, having also acted as special advisor at the U.S. Department of Education.

Despite his busy schedule, Commissioner Chopra always had an open door to hear from advocates and everyday consumers. When it comes to fighting abusive debt collection practices, crushing student loan debt, predatory payday loan companies, and auto lenders that discriminate against black, brown, and immigrant communities, consumers will have no greater champion than Rohit Chopra.

We urge the Senate to promptly confirm Commissioner Chopra so that he and his team can get started on the critically important mission of protecting the interests of the nation’s consumers.”

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)
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 www.nclnet.org.

National Consumers League welcomes appointment of Janet Woodcock as acting commissioner of food and drugs

For immediate release: January 29, 2021

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org(412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org(202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL) welcomes the naming of Dr. Janet Woodcock as Acting Commissioner of the United States Food and Drug Administration. Woodcock will oversee the full breadth of the FDA’s work.

This statement is attributable to NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg:

We welcome Dr. Woodcock’s naming as Acting Commissioner of the FDA. Her decades of experience and deep knowledge of this critically important federal health and safety agency, its staff, and its vast legislative and regulatory authority, makes her an excellent choice to head the FDA as the nation’s healthcare infrastructure struggles to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. NCL works not only on drug safety and development, but on food policy issues, which also falls under the purview of the FDA; thus, we share many issues of mutual concern to consumer advocacy and fight for the implementation of important safety and health regulations.

Dr. Woodcock has long been a friend of the consumer community and has maintained an ‘open door’ policy with consumer and patient advocacy groups, willing to listen to all sides and make time on her very busy calendar for the concerns of average citizens. In 2017, NCL was proud to recognize Dr. Woodcock with the National Consumers League’s Florence Kelley Consumer Leadership Award, an honor for outstanding leaders who transform the world we live in for the better. The award is named for Florence Kelley, NCL’s fearless first leader and towering historical figure who pioneered health care and labor reform in the first decades of the 20th Century. NCL welcomes Dr. Woodcock as Acting Commissioner of the FDA and looks forward to continuing to support the agency’s hard work through a productive relationship.

Dr. Woodcock has been bestowed numerous honors over her distinguished public health career in addition to NCL’s Florence Kelley Award, most notably: a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015 from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices; the Ellen V. Sigal Advocacy Leadership Award in 2016 from Friends of Cancer Research; and the 2019 Biotechnology Heritage Award from the Biotechnology Innovation Organization and Science History Institute.

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)

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 www.nclnet.org.

Letter to Congress: NCL calls for confirmation of Becerra as Health Secretary

January 22, 2021

Dear Chairman Grassley and Ranking Member Wyden:

The National Consumers League (NCL) is America’s pioneering consumer advocacy organization, representing consumers and workers on marketplace and workplace issues since our founding in 1899. NCL has long advocated for equitable access to affordable quality health care for all. Today, NCL continues to work tirelessly to ensure the nation’s COVID-19 response meets the needs of the communities hardest hit by the pandemic.

As such, we call on the Senate to act expeditiously to confirm the appointment of Attorney General Xavier Becerra to serve as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). AG Becerra’s appointment to Secretary of HHS is welcomed by advocates across the health care spectrum. As a nation in the midst of a public health crisis, there has never been a more critical time for bipartisanship. AG Becerra’s speedy confirmation would be a positive step forward to setting aside political ideology and working across the aisle to serve the American people.

AG Becerra is a proven champion for increasing access to health care in low-income minority communities, which are being disproportionately affected by the coronavirus. As Attorney General of California, AG Becerra’s stalwart leadership helped to preserve key consumer health care protections enacted by the Affordable Care Act. We anticipate that Attorney General Becerra will lead the HHS pandemic response with the same health equity and social justice principles he’s employed throughout his career.

NCL strongly supports the nomination of Attorney General Xavier Becerra as the next HHS Secretary and urges this Committee to report his nomination favorably to the Senate. NCL is encouraged this Committee has already begun the nomination process by sending its initial questionnaire to the nominee, and hopes this is an indicator that the diligent work to confirm AG Becerra’s appointment to HHS will commence without delay.

Sincerely,

Sally Greenberg
Executive Director
National Consumers League

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)

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 www.nclnet.org.

NCL statement on violent Capitol insurrection

For immediate release: January 7, 2021

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC–The National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s pioneering consumer organization founded to advocate for the interests of workers and consumers, condemns the right-wing assault by radical extremists on the U.S. Capitol and surrounding Senate and House office buildings.

This was a shocking and unprecedented attack on the fundamental institution of our democracy – our Congress – which was working to verifying the results of the 2020 presidential election. Encouraged by President Donald Trump to engage in “wild” behavior and storm the Capitol, falsely claiming without evidence that he won the Presidential election, these radical right-wing insurrectionists overtook the Capitol Police and entered the U.S. Capitol building.  Once inside, they went on a rampage, breaking windows, throwing bottles and bricks, vandalizing and stealing federal property, assaulting Capitol Police officers, invading Congressional offices, and threatening lawmakers with violence. A noose was hung by these criminals for all to see outside the Capitol.

This mayhem occurred a mile from NCL’s Washington headquarters. This disturbing attempt to undermine the will of American voters and the very democratic systems for which NCL has stood for over a century is unacceptable.

The following statement may be attributed to NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg:

“National Consumers League’s Board of Directors and staff support Americans’ right to free speech and peaceful protest, but these acts of terror and threats of violence toward our elected officials January 6 have no place in this country, and they cannot be condoned or tolerated. We deeply regret that so many members of Congress continued to propagate Mr. Trump’s rants and his false claims of election fraud. Democracy is fragile and must be fought for and defended every day. NCL calls on the nation to commit to upholding social equality, expanded access to voting, a rejection of violence, and a peaceful transfer of power. Following Wednesday’s riot, NCL redoubles our dedication to these ideals and to the upward progress of the country we hold dear.”

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)

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 www.nclnet.org.

NCL congratulates President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris

For immediate release: January 7, 2020

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC–On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff of the National Consumers League, America’s pioneering consumer organization founded in 1899, we wish to extend warm congratulations to our next President of the United States, Joe Biden and incoming Vice President Kamala Harris. As consumer and worker advocates, we look forward to building a strong relationship with the Biden-Harris Administration to advance the issues of democracy, which go hand-in-hand with consumer and worker protections. Among the top priorities on NCL’s agenda: enacting a $15 federal minimum wage and comprehensive privacy and data security laws; strengthening consumer protections regulations throughout the federal agencies; fighting fraud by enhancing consumer protections in financial transactions; restoring consumer protections to the flying public and American travelers; combatting predatory financial practices; and reducing the barriers facing all consumers seeking to gain access to the civil justice system.

Congratulations once again to President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their election to the two highest offices in the land.

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)

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 www.nclnet.org.

Consumer group: 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines falls short on alcohol, sugar recommendations

For immediate release: January 6, 2020

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC –At a time when almost 75 percent of American adults are overweight or obese and as many as six in 10 have one or more diet-related chronic disease, such as diabetes and hypertension, the National Consumers League (NCL) is concerned that the just released 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans do not contain clear recommendations on added sugars and alcohol consumption that can help reverse these trends.

While stressing the importance of consuming mostly nutrient-dense foods and beverages – especially fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and lean meats and poultry – the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines fall short when it comes to advice on limiting added sugars. Despite the urging of the independent Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee to recommend that Americans reduce their consumption of added sugars to 6 percent of daily calories, the 2020-2025 guidance continues to allow for up to 10 percent. This is worrying because added sugars, which include high fructose corn syrup, maltose, sucrose, molasses, corn sweetener and fruit juice concentrates, are ubiquitous in foods and beverages and contribute only calories but no essential nutrients.

“We are greatly disappointed that the latest dietary guidelines make no progress in educating Americans about moderate drinking, despite compelling evidence of excessive alcohol use in the country,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “As the new Dietary Guidelines itself acknowledges, about half of the estimated 66 percent of adults who drink alcoholic beverages report binge drinking – sometimes multiple times a month. Americans need significantly more information to make responsible drinking decisions than is now contained in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines.

Consumption of alcohol during pregnancy continues to be a problem in the United States. Specifically, one on ten pregnant women reported consuming alcohol with an average intake of two or more drinks on the day in question.

On a positive note, the latest guidelines define a standard “drink” as 12 fluid ounces of regular beer, 5 fluid ounces of wine, and 1.5 fluid ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (all equaling 0.6 fluid ounces or 14 grams of pure alcohol). However, the reality is most adult Americans don’t know this and consider a “drink” to be the contents in a glass, bottle, or can.  Thus, it is challenging to follow the dietary guidelines advice to limit consumption to two drinks or less for men and one drink or less for women.

For this reason, the National Consumers League is renewing the call for the federal agency that regulates alcoholic beverages – the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) – to mandate an easy-to-read, standardized “Alcohol Facts” label on all beer, wine and distilled spirits products on an expedited basis. Our call for alcohol labeling goes back to 2003 when NCL and 76 other organizations first petitioned TTB to require alcohol and nutrient content information on alcoholic beverage products, including the serving size, amount of alcohol (in fluid ounces or grams) per serving, number of calories per serving, and the percent of alcohol by volume.

“Unfortunately, we are still waiting for alcohol labeling and the American public is paying the price in higher rates of chronic diseases, depression, learning and memory problems, and serious injuries, such as motor vehicle accidents, falls, drownings, and burns,” said Greenberg.

According to a study published in the July 31, 2020 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate an average of 93,296 deaths (255 per day) and 2.7 million years of potential life lost in the United States each year from excessive alcohol use at a cost to the economy of $249 billion in 2010 alone.

“Only with comprehensive alcohol labeling will Americans have the facts to heed the advice on alcohol consumption contained in the newly released 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines and for the public health community to have the tools to reduce excessive drinking in a meaningful way,” said Greenberg.

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)

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 www.nclnet.org.

National Consumers League statement on DOT’s Unfair and Deceptive Practices Rule

For immediate release: November 30, 2020

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC –The National Consumers League (NCL), America’s pioneering consumer and worker advocacy organization, is deeply disappointed at the Department of Transportation’s decision late Friday to finalize its Rule on Defining Unfair or Deceptive Practices. The rulemaking, begun at the behest of the airlines’ biggest lobbying group, was opposed by NCL and a coalition of eight other consumer groups, five members of Congress, two FTC commissioners, and nearly 200 individual consumers.

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

“The DOT’s decision, at the height of a pandemic, to kneecap its ability to protect millions of travelers from airline industry abuses is deeply disappointing. That the Department decided to do so on the Friday after Thanksgiving highlights that they hope this terrible decision will be forgotten by Monday. It should be clear to every member of the flying public that current DOT leadership is focused squarely on doing the airline industry’s bidding between now and January 20. It will be incumbent on the next Administration to undo this Rule, along with so many other anti-consumer actions taken over the past four years.”

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)

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 www.nclnet.org.