PBM reforms needed now in order to expand access to lower cost biosimilars that would benefit all Americans

February 22, 2024

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831

Washington, DC – The National Consumers League (NCL) recently submitted a letter to the U.S. House and Senate leadership expressing our collective support for Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBM) reforms to improve consumer and patient access to biosimilars. Given the ongoing surge in prescription drug costs, expanding access to lower cost biosimilars represents a bipartisan solution that would benefit all Americans.

“We are hopeful PBM reforms will be included in a final March healthcare package,” said NCL CEO Sally Greenberg.

The letter can be found here.

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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 nclnet.org.

NCL urges Congress to improve air travel as FAA reauthorization progresses

February 15, 2024

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831

Washington, DC – Last week, the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee advanced the five-year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The legislation does contain some victories for consumers, but it does not contain the deep reforms of an uncompetitive industry that are sorely needed.

“Passengers are crying out to Congress to implement real reforms that make flying less miserable,” said NCL Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud John Breyault. “The Senate Commerce Committee could have used its twice-a-decade opportunity to swing for the fences on behalf of the flying public. Unfortunately, they settled for a bunt single.”

NCL, in coalition with other consumer and passenger rights organizations, has called for stronger safeguards to be included in the FAA reauthorization bill for years. Last February, NCL and eight other advocacy groups sent a letter to House and Senate Commerce Committee leaders urging support for a range of critical reforms to the airline industry. Key among those demands was a change to allow state attorneys general to enforce consumer protection laws against airlines, something that federal law currently prohibits them from doing. Thirty-seven bipartisan state attorneys general have also supported this reform, which both the House of Representatives and the Senate have so far ignored in their bills.

“Congress is running out of time to get this right,” said Breyault. “We strongly urge members of the Senate to make protecting the flying public a bigger priority as this bill moves to a floor vote.”

Several of the passenger rights coalition’s other priorities were included in the bill reported out of the Senate Commerce Committee. These reforms include a requirement that children be seated with their family and caregivers without additional fees, a requirement that air travel vouchers not expire before five years, standards for refunds in the event of a delay or cancellation, minimum customer service call center requirements, and creating an assistant Secretary of Aviation Consumer Protection.

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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 nclnet.org.

Top Ten Scams report: Explosion of crypto reports raises alarm 

February 6, 2024

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Cryptocurrency is being used in an increasing number of scams, leading to some of the highest median losses every reported to the National Consumers League (NCL). In its annual 2023 Top Ten Scams report, NCL found that the percentage of crypto-linked scam reports more than doubled year-over-year, making up almost 1-in-10 complaints received. The report, published annually, analyzed more than 2,700 consumer fraud complaints filed with NCL’s Fraud.org campaign last year.  

The median loss for reported investment frauds, including cryptocurrency, ballooned to $20,000. Just two years prior, the number was $1,750. The complaints in this category frequently described schemes where victims were encouraged to put money into cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency-linked investments that later turned out to be fraudulent.  

“Year after year, complaints to Fraud.org paint a heartbreaking picture,” said NCL Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud John Breyault. “It is clear that the problem of fraud is not going away on its own. It is past time for policymakers at every level to take this issue seriously and do everything they can to crackdown on this epidemic.” 

A record year for natural disasters appears to have been reflected in the numbers as well: reports of fake charity scams were up almost 200% compared to 2022. These complaints often involve fraudsters impersonating non-profit aid groups, particularly following crises like the wildfires in Maui. 

The top ten scam categories reported to Fraud.org in 2023 were:  

  1. Prizes/Sweepstakes/Free Gifts  
  2. Internet: General Merchandise  
  3. Phishing/Spoofing  
  4. Investments: Other (incl. cryptocurrency) 
  5. Fake Check Scams 
  6. Advance Fee Loans, Credit Arrangers  
  7. Friendship & Sweetheart Swindles  
  8. Charitable Solicitations 
  9. Family/Friend Imposter  
  10. Home Repair 

“Reporting fraud is an important step for victims,” said NCL Consumer Services Coordinator James Perry. “When someone reaches out, we can connect them with the right resources and begin to walk them through the recovery process. The information they share also helps inform decisions around fighting these scams.” 

Scammers contacting victims through the internet and phone calls initiated three out of four fraud incidents, with the internet replacing phone calls as the number one method of contact in 2023. The Top Ten Scams report also showed a worrying trend in scams targeting young consumers. Compared to 2022, complaints from consumers aged 18-25 increased by 13.12%. 

“The prevalence of scams online should worry everyone, especially as more of daily life becomes virtual,” said NCL Public Policy Manager Eden Iscil. “This is particularly troubling for younger individuals who we know statistically are more likely to become victims of fraud than any other age group. As consumers now grow up online, this problem will only get worse if we don’t dedicate resources to safeguarding our most vulnerable.”  

To view the full 2023 Top Ten Scams report, click here.  

Methodology  

The National Consumers League Top Ten Scams report analyzed 2,756 complaints submitted by consumers to NCL’s Fraud.org campaign in 2023. This data is self-reported by victims and should not be considered a nationally representative sample. NCL shares complaint data with a network of law enforcement and consumer protection agency partners who combine it with other data sets to identify trends in fraud and build cases. 

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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 nclnet.org.

NCL testifies before Senate, urges stronger protections against scams

February 1, 2024

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831

Washington, DC – Highlighting the ongoing epidemic of fraud across the country, NCL Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications and Fraud John Breyault testified today before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Breyault advocated for stronger consumer protections alongside Carla Sanchez-Adams, a senior attorney at the National Consumer Law Center.

“When NCL last testified before this committee in 2021, we warned that peer-to-peer payment platforms such as Zelle, Venmo, Cash App, and PayPal had become ‘payment methods of choice for scammers.’ Unfortunately, the problem has only worsened since then,” Breyault told the committee. “No amount of consumer education, better disclosure, or ‘friction’ put into payment flows will solve this problem alone. The payment platforms where fraud occurs must have a bigger financial incentive to stop scams before they happen.”

The Federal Trade Commission, the primary federal agency for reporting fraud, continues to receive record numbers of complaints, with 5.4 million reports in 2022. Since the last time Vice President Breyault appeared before the Senate Banking Committee, median losses to scams nearly doubled, from $374 per incident to $650. The emergence of new and unregulated technologies, such as peer-to-peer payment apps and cryptocurrencies, has also facilitated staggering losses. Crypto-linked fraud losses exceeded $1 billion annually in 2022 and 2023.

“We are not winning the fight against fraud,” said Breyault. “We need Congress to Act.”

Breyault urged the Banking Committee to swiftly pass bills like the Protecting Consumers From Payment Scams Act and Senator Elizabeth Warrens (D-MA) Digital Asset Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2023 to crack down on scams targeting peer-to-peer payment apps and cryptocurrencies, respectively.

This was Breyault’s fourth time speaking before Congress on policy solutions to address the incessant scams targeting Americans daily. Breyault’s full written testimony can be found here.

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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 nclnet.org.

NCL’s Greenberg urges MD Senate Finance Committee to support living wage legislation

February 1, 2024

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831

Washington, DC – The CEO of the National Consumers League, Sally Greenberg, today testified before the Maryland Senate Finance Committee urging them to end the subminimum wage for tipped workers under Senate Bill 160.

“The restaurant industry is still not fully recovered from the pandemic,” says Greenberg. “States that pay tipped workers the full minimum wage report higher restaurant sales, employment growth rates.”

Greenberg’s full testimony can be found here.

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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 nclnet.org.

Americans now have an Obesity Bill of Rights

January 31, 2024

Media contact: Nancy Glick, 202-320-5579, nancyg@nclnet.org; Simona Combi, 571-527-3982, simona.combi@ncoa.org

Washington, DC – Because obesity – the most prevalent and costly chronic disease in the United States –remains largely undiagnosed and untreated a decade after the American Medical Association (AMA) classified it as a serious disease requiring comprehensive care,[1] the National Consumers League (NCL) and National Council on Aging (NCOA) today introduced the nation’s first Obesity Bill of Rights and launched a grassroots movement – Right2ObesityCare – to advance changes in federal, state, and employer policies that will ensure these rights are incorporated into medical practice.

Developed in consultation with leading obesity specialists and endorsed by nearly 40 national obesity and chronic disease organizations, the Obesity Bill of Rights establishes eight essential rights, so people with obesity will be screened, diagnosed, counseled, and treated according to medical guidelines and no longer face widespread weight bias and ageism within the health care system or exclusionary coverage policies by insurers and government agencies.

“Our goal with the Obesity Bill of Rights is to define quality obesity care as the right of all adults and empower those with the disease to ask questions and demand treatment without discrimination or bias regardless of their size or weight” said Sally Greenberg, Chief Executive Officer of the National Consumers League. “For too long, adults with obesity have encountered a health care system that is working against them. They have been stigmatized, discriminated against, not treated with respect by their health providers, and have faced significant hurdles and burdensome requirements to receive obesity care.”

As described by Patricia Nece, J.D., Immediate Past Chair of the Obesity Action Coalition, “For my entire life, I’ve been a target of ridicule simply because of my weight. People rarely take time to look beyond my weight to see me.”

Currently, only 30 million[2] of the estimated 108 million adults living with obesity[3] have been diagnosed with the condition, and only about 2% of those eligible for anti-obesity medications have been prescribed these treatments.[4] The consequence of untreated obesity for the nation is worsening outcomes for over 230 obesity-related chronic diseases,[5] approximately 400,000 premature deaths a year,[6] and an estimated $1.72 trillion in direct and indirect costs to the U.S. economy.[7]

Defining Quality Obesity Care for All
The Obesity Bill of Rights establishes and promotes eight essential rights to drive transformational change and define the core requirements for people with obesity to receive person-centered, quality care:

  1. The Right to Accurate, Clear, Trusted, and Accessible Information on obesity as a treatable chronic disease
  2. The Right to Respect by all members of the integrated care team when screening, counseling, and providing treatment
  3. The Right to Make Treatment Decisions about one’s health goals and obesity care in consultation with the individual’s health providers
  4. The Right to Treatment from Qualified Health Providers including counseling and ongoing care from health providers with expertise in obesity care
  5. The Right to Person-Centered Care that is personalized, respects the individual’s cultural beliefs, meets their specific health goals, and considers the person’s whole health and not just their weight status
  6. The Right to Accessible Obesity Treatment from Health Systems, so those with severe obesity receive care in settings that allow for privacy, using size and weight-accessible equipment and diagnostic scans
  7. The Right for Older Adults to Receive Quality Obesity Care that comprises a respectful, comprehensive care approach consistent with their personalized medical needs
  8. The Right to Coverage for Treatment with access to the full range of treatment options for the person’s disease as prescribed by the individual’s health provider

“Collectively, these rights will ensure that adults with obesity have trusted, accurate information about their disease, respectful and nondiscriminatory care from medical professionals, and insurance that provides access to all treatments deemed appropriate by their health providers,” said Ramsey Alwin, NCOA President and CEO. “In town halls across the country, older adults told us they often feel invisible when seeking obesity care. The Obesity Bill of Rights recognizes and aims to address their unique challenges.”

Putting the Bill of Rights into practice

With the goal of reversing the trajectory of the nation’s obesity epidemic, NCL and NCOA will spearhead Right2ObesityCare, a new grassroots movement to engage people with obesity, their caregivers, health professionals, community leaders, employers, and a network of obesity and chronic disease organizations to drive adoption of the Obesity Bill of Rights in clinical settings.

Using the online hub www.right2obesitycare.org to mobilize stakeholders, Right2ObesityCare will focus on national and state policy efforts, including developing a set of national “obesity goals” for full implementation of the Obesity Bill of Rights by December 31, 2029. Plans include hosting regional town halls, workshops, and advocacy forums across the country; scheduling meetings with federal and state legislators and regulators; and arming interested citizens and advocacy leaders with materials and tools to advocate for implementation of the Obesity Bill of Rights in their communities and workplaces. NCL and NCOA also will pursue development of a model law that stakeholders can use to incorporate the Obesity Bill of Rights into state law.

“The Obesity Bill of Rights brings us a step closer to creating a society where all individuals are treated with respect and without discrimination or bias regardless of their size or weight. Establishing eight essential rights for people living with obesity strengthens efforts to end such blame, shame and discrimination and give individuals who want and need it, access to safe and effective options to improve their health,” added Joe Nadglowski, President and CEO of the Obesity Action Coalition.

Advocacy on implementing the Obesity Bill of Rights also gives policymakers new impetus to pass legislation that will remove the regulatory and insurance obstacles that keep many people with obesity from getting the care prescribed by their health providers.

According to Rep. Brad Wenstrup, DPM (R-OH), “By tackling obesity head on, we can better prevent numerous additional diseases like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. My bill, the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA), expands Medicare beneficiaries’ access to treatment options to include FDA-approved medications, clinical psychologists, registered dieticians, and nutrition professionals. Not only would this legislation help Americans live healthier and longer lives, but it can also save taxpayer dollars over the long run.”

Added Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), “Obesity is a chronic condition – not a personal or moral failing. We need to ensure our health care system treats it as a disease, so that Americans with obesity can access holistic, high-quality care that meets the full spectrum of their needs. I am proud to be a co-lead of the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act, which puts us on a path toward effectively treating obesity, helping create healthier outcomes for Americans and supporting enhanced quality of life for Medicare beneficiaries who need comprehensive care.”

Development of the Obesity Bill of Rights

A year in development, the Obesity Bill of Rights is the product of extensive research combined with four town hall meetings hosted in senior centers and churches in California, Delaware, Mississippi, and Oklahoma between June and August 2023. At these town halls, more than 250 older adults, community leaders, and local clinicians described a health care system that is inhospitable to delivering quality obesity care, and physicians described having limited time for counseling, not enough training in obesity management, and inadequate coverage and reimbursement for obesity care.

After turning this knowledge and the lived experiences of older adults into a first draft, NCL and NCOA hosted a roundtable at The Obesity Society annual meeting in October 2023 where leading obesity experts reviewed the preliminary document and made recommendations. NCL and NCOA then sought feedback from specialists in minority health, aging, and rural health, as well as health professionals and other stakeholders who provided additional guidance. The final step was to circulate the updated Obesity Bill of Rights to a wide group of stakeholder organizations, resulting in initial endorsements from 36 obesity, public health, and chronic disease organizations and medical societies.

Nearly 40 consumer, aging, and public health organizations endorse the Obesity Bill of Rights

To date, the following organizations have endorsed the first-ever Obesity Bill of Rights: 1) the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; 2) Alliance for Aging Research; 3) Alliance for Women’s Health & Prevention; 4) American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine; 5) American Medical Women’s Association; 6) American Nurses Association; 7) American Society on Aging;  8) American Society for Nutrition; 9) Association of Black Cardiologists; 10) Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists; 11) Bias180; 12) Black Women’s Health Imperative; 13) Choose Healthy Life; 14) ConscienHealth; 15) Council on Black Health; 16) Defeat Malnutrition Today; 17)  Gerontological Society of America; 18) Global Liver Institute; 19) Health Equity Coalition for Chronic Disease; 20) HealthyWomen; 21) Lupus Foundation of America; 22) MANA; 23) National Asian Pacific Center on Aging; 24) National Black Nurses Association; 25) National Hispanic Council on Aging; 26) National Hispanic Health Foundation; 27) National Kidney Foundation; 28) Noom, Inc.; 29) Nurses Obesity Network; 30) Obesity Action Coalition; 31) Obesity Medicine Society;  32) Patients Rising;  33) Partnership to Advance Cardiovascular Health; 34) Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association; 35) The Obesity Society; and 36) WeightWatchers.

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About NCL

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. The organization’s 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.

About NCOA

The National Council on Aging is the national voice for every person’s right to age well. We believe that how we age should not be determined by gender, color, sexuality, income, or ZIP code. Working with thousands of national and local partners, we provide resources, tools, best practices, and advocacy to ensure every person can age with health and financial security. Founded in 1950, we are the oldest national organization focused on older adults. Learn more at www.ncoa.org.

 

[1] Obesity Medicine Association. June 19, 2013. “AMA House of Delegates Adopts Policy to Recognize Obesity as a Disease. Accessible at https://obesitymedicine.org/blog/ama-adopts-policy-recognize-obesity-disease/:

[2] PharMetrics-Ambulatory EMR database, 2018. Novo Nordisk Inc.

[3] Hales CM, et al. Prevalence of Obesity and Severe Obesity Among Adults: United States, 2017-2018. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NCHS Data Brief. No. 360. February 2020.

[4] PharMetrics-Ambulatory EMR database, 2018. Novo Nordisk Inc.

[5] Obesity Care Advocacy Network. Fact Sheet: Obesity Care Beyond Weight Loss

[6] Hurt Rt, et al. Obesity epidemic: overview, pathophysiology, and the intensive care unit conundrum. J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2011 Sep;35(5 Suppl):45-135

[7] Milken Institute (October 2018), “America’s Obesity Crisis: The Health and Economic Costs of Excess Weight.”

National Consumers League sues Starbucks, alleging coffee giant deceives customers with claims of “100% ethical” coffee, tea

January 10, 2024

Media contact: Matt Lopez, 805-377-2950, matt.lopez@berlinrosen.com; Melody Merin, 202-207-2831, melodym@nclnet.org

Washington, DC – The National Consumers League (NCL), America’s pioneering consumer advocacy organization, on Wednesday, January 10, 2024, filed a lawsuit alleging that Starbucks is falsely and deceptively claiming “100% ethical” coffee and tea sourcing, detailing widespread evidence the company relies on farms and cooperatives that commit egregious labor and human rights violations. 

The lawsuit, filed in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, notes that Starbucks has responded to its consumers’ demand for responsible corporate practices by launching a yearslong campaign to brand itself as a leader in ethical coffee and tea sourcing, including by developing its own set of “Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices” verification standards. In one promotional video featured during the 2023 holiday season, a Starbucks spokesperson says that when he drinks Starbucks coffee, “I know it was ethically sourced.” 

In reality, the lawsuit alleges, the company’s marketing misleads consumers and fails to convey the rampant sourcing from coffee and tea farms and cooperatives with a documented history of child labor, forced labor, sexual harassment and assault and other human rights abuses. 

“On every bag of coffee and box of K-cups sitting on grocery store shelves, Starbucks is telling consumers a lie,” said Sally Greenberg, chief executive officer of the National Consumers League. “The facts are clear: there are significant human rights and labor abuses across Starbucks’ supply chain, and consumers have a right to know exactly what they’re paying for. NCL is committed to exposing and reining in these deceptive practices and holding Starbucks accountable for living up to its claims.” 

In 2022, for instance, the Brazilian labor prosecutor issued a complaint against Starbucks’ largest Brazilian supplier, citing working conditions analogous to slavery, including illegally trafficking more than 30 migrant workers. At the Cooxupé collective, which accounts for 40 percent of Starbucks’ Brazilian coffee supply and has received the “C.A.F.E. Practices” certification, investigators found that workers put in excessive hours and carry coffee sacks weighing over 100 pounds on their backs. 

“Starbucks’ failure to adopt meaningful reforms to its coffee and tea sourcing practices in the face of these critiques and documented labor abuses on its source farms is wholly inconsistent with a reasonable consumer’s understanding of what it means to be ‘committed to 100% ethical’ sourcing,” the complaint reads. “Similarly, Starbucks’ failure to disclose to consumers the unreliability of these certification programs and their limitations as a guarantee of ethical sourcing are misleading omissions material to the decision-making of a reasonable consumer.”

To protect consumers who may unknowingly be buying unethically sourced coffee or tea — and paying a premium for those products — National Consumers League seeks an order enjoining Starbucks from further engaging in deceptive advertising and requiring the company to run a corrective advertising campaign. Making good on its representations to consumers would require Starbucks to significantly reform its sourcing and monitoring practices to ensure that workers on the farms and cooperatives that supply its coffee and tea products are treated fairly and in accordance with the law. 

Across Starbucks’ Global Supply Chain, Pattern of Abuses Emerges

Over the last decade, a broad range of investigations by government agencies and journalists has uncovered a clear pattern of labor and human rights abuses at Starbucks’ preferred farms and cooperatives — even those that have received the company’s own “C.A.F.E. Practices” certification.

  • At the James Finlay plantation in Kenya, a Starbucks tea source, undercover reporters with the BBC exposed rampant sexual abuse, including supervisors forcing women into having sex in exchange for work. Thousands of Finlay workers have also filed a class action lawsuit alleging grueling working conditions that wore down their bodies and detailing Finlay’s practice of firing chronically injured workers instead of providing them with healthcare. Finlay workers are reportedly paid the equivalent of $30 per week. 
  • At the Starbucks-certified Mesas Farm in Brazil, law enforcement officers in 2022 rescued 17 workers, including a 15-, 16- and 17-year old, from slavery-like conditions, which included outdoor work, unprotected from the elements, that required workers to lift coffee sacks weighing over 130 pounds. The Mesas Farm has also failed to provide the workers with the personal protective equipment that is required by Brazilian law. 
  • At three different Starbucks certified farms in Guatemala, Channel 4 found children under 13 years old working 40 or 50 hours per week. 

Although Starbucks has repeatedly been made aware of the rampant abuses at its supplier and “C.A.F.E. Practices” certified farms and cooperatives, the company has failed to respond with meaningful action.

“Starbucks misleadingly fails to disclose facts material to consumer purchasing decisions, including that many of its supposedly ethical suppliers have in fact relied on forced and/or child labor, i.e. that C.A.F.E. Practices certification does not guarantee the absence of forced and child labor,” the complaint reads.

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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 nclnet.org.

NCL applauds competition regulators for centering consumers and workers in 2023 Merger Guidelines

December 19, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831

This week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released their final merger guidelines, describing how the agencies will review mergers and acquisitions. The agencies improved upon existing guidelines by recentering marketplace competition and federal antitrust law, a break from previous enforcement regimes that allowed waves of consolidation to occur economy-wide with few repercussions.

“The 2023 Merger Guidelines mark a historic return toward these agencies’ original mandates—to protect the public from predatory corporations,” said National Consumers League Chief Executive Officer Sally Greenberg. “Decades of rubber-stamping harmful deals have allowed anti-consumer and anti-worker practices to run wild. NCL welcomes the updated guidelines and appreciates that the Commission and Department have signaled an intention to examine proposed deals holistically. Strong enforcement of our antitrust laws is key to combatting price gouging, privacy violations, wage suppression, and other noxious practices.”

NCL strongly supports the application of antitrust laws to protect consumers, workers, and our democracy. NCL’s comments to the DOJ and FTC on the 2023 Merger Guidelines can be found here.

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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 nclnet.org.

NCL statement on DOT’s fine against Southwest Airlines

December 18, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831

Washington, DC – The National Consumers League (NCL) today applauded the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) landmark enforcement action against Southwest Airlines over the company’s operational meltdown during the 2022 holidays.

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

“Today’s DOT action sends an unambiguous signal to the airline industry that passengers’ time is valuable and there will be consequences for carriers that waste it. The unprecedented $140 million fine demonstrates that consumer protection remains a top priority under Secretary Buttigieg’s leadership. However, enforcement is just one tool in DOT’s toolbox. While we welcome today’s announcement, passengers should be protected regardless of which airline they choose to fly. This will only happen if DOT enacts strong rules to ensure that consumers are compensated when flights are delayed or cancelled, that refunds are processed without delay, and that unfair and deceptive practices and unfair methods of competition are policed vigorously. We look forward to continuing to work with DOT and the industry to make this a reality.”

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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 nclnet.org.

Consumer advocates seek to block Virginia’s $2 billion handout to Ted Leonsis – National Consumers League and Sports Fans Coalition launch #MonumentalDisaster campaign

December 15, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Melody Merin, melodym@nclnet.org, 202-207-2831; Sports Fans Coalition – Brian Hess, hess@istreetadvocates.com, 703-659-7557

Alexandria, VA – The National Consumers League (NCL) and Sports Fans Coalition (SFC) today urged the Virginia General Assembly and the Alexandria City Council to reject Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin’s plan to offer billions of taxpayer dollars to Monumental Sports Entertainment for the construction of a new arena for the Washington Wizards and Washington Capitals. Governor Youngkin’s proposal would reportedly require the General Assembly to authorize the issuance of $1.4 billion, and potentially as much as $2 billion, in public debt. In addition, the citizens of Alexandria are being asked to contribute as much as $106 million in additional funds. Monumental Sports & Entertainment, would be required to invest $403 million, potentially less than 20 percent of the project’s estimated cost.

There is widespread consensus among economists that subsidizing sports stadiums almost never yields a net economic benefit for the local community and is instead a burden to local governments and taxpayers. Despite this, community after community continues to offer enormous taxpayer-funded incentives to professional sports teams. The Monumental Sports Entertainment deal is no different.

“This is a terrible deal for Virginia taxpayers, Wizards and Capitals fans, and residents of the surrounding community,” said John Breyault, Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud at the National Consumers League. “Communities across America continually fall under the spell of billionaire sports team owners who promise the moon in exchange for billions in public money. Our elected leaders must not allow Virginians to become the next suckers in this shell game.”

“Fans love their teams, and they hate when they leave the city. That doesn’t mean fans like seeing their hard-earned tax dollars get spent on lavish sports arenas,” said Brian Hess, Executive Director of Sports Fans Coalition, lifelong Northern Virginian, and avid DC sports fan. “We have long opposed public money being used for sports arenas, and have even called for fan-friendly conditions – the Danifesto – to be included in the handouts. However, even those conditions may not be enough to tip the scales on just how bad a deal this is. In no uncertain terms, lawmakers should vote ‘no.’”

NCL/SFC’s #MonumentalDisaster campaign launched with a petition found on SFC’s website: https://www.sportsfans.org/open_letter_to_virginia_lawmakers. Here, fans can fill out a form and sign the open letter which will be delivered to lawmakers. NCL/SFC will also partner with local activists who have already started opposing this deal. Anyone can join the fight by signing the open letter and posting on social media with #MonumentalDisaster.

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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 nclnet.org.

About Sports Fans Coalition (SFC)

Founded in 2009, Sports Fans Coalition represents fans wherever public policy impacts the games we love. They work to promote pay equality for women athletes, provide resources to fans at risk for gambling addiction, ticket buyer consumer protections, college athlete name, image, and likeness rights, and many other issues in the sports industry. For more information, visit www.sportsfans.org.