NCL and 36 leading patient organizations urge Congress to protect seniors’ access to critical laboratory tests

September 21, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, D.C.— The National Consumers League (NCL) today sent a letter signed by 37 leading advocacy organizations, including groups that represent patients with common and chronic conditions who depend on laboratory testing to diagnose and manage their health, urging Senate and House leaders to protect access to clinical laboratory services by enacting the Saving Access to Laboratory Services Act (SALSA / S. 4449 / H.R. 8188) this year.

“Without urgent congressional action, ongoing Medicare reimbursement cuts could jeopardize access to many clinical laboratory tests used to diagnose, monitor, prevent, and manage diseases for more than 50 million Americans,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director. “It is essential that Congress act this year to permanently fix this problem.”

Highlights from the letter are included below:

  • “Without congressional action, Medicare reimbursement cuts – a fourth round scheduled to begin January 1, 2023 – could jeopardize access to many clinical laboratory tests that are used to diagnose, monitor, prevent, and manage common diseases for more than 50 million seniors.”
  • “Clinical diagnostic tests play a critical role in health care and inform 70 percent of medical decisions. For example, in 2020 more than 17 million hemoglobin A1C tests to assess the risk of developing diabetes, 28 million tests to diagnose and monitor heart disease, and 90,000 tests to diagnose leukemia and hereditary breast and colon cancer were provided to Medicare beneficiaries to support their care.”
  • “Between 2017 and 2022, payment for common tests for diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease were cut by 27 percent. The next round of Medicare cuts would slash reimbursement up to another 15 percent for more than 800 laboratory tests, resulting in a staggering 38 percent cut to tests that are widely used to screen and manage many serious diseases. It is essential that Congress protect patients by acting this year to fix the Medicare payment model for clinical diagnostic tests.”
  • “Because of the serious implications for patients who rely on routine as well as advanced diagnostic laboratory services, Congress has acted three times to delay these cuts in recent years, but permanent reform is needed now. Fortunately, the Saving Access to Laboratory Services Actwould update Medicare’s payment system, which would help protect access to clinical laboratory testing, support investment in innovation, and strengthen America’s clinical laboratory infrastructure.”

Groups signing the letter include:

  • A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation
  • Alliance for Aging Research
  • Alpha-1 Foundation
  • American Sexual Health Association
  • AnCan Foundation
  • California Life Sciences
  • California Society of Pathologists
  • Cancer Support Community
  • CancerCare
  • Caregiver Action Network
  • Caregiver Voices United
  • Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation
  • Chronic Disease Coalition
  • Community Liver Alliance
  • Down Syndrome Association Of Orange County
  • FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered
  • Global Liver Institute
  • GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer
  • HealthCare Institute of New Jersey (HINJ)
  • Healthcare Leadership Council
  • Heart Valve Voice US
  • HIV + Hepatitis Policy Institute
  • International Foundation for AiArthritis
  • LUNGevity
  • Lupus and Allied Diseases Association, Inc.
  • Lupus Foundation of America
  • Men’s Health Network
  • Minority Health Institute
  • National Consumers League
  • New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies
  • Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance
  • Patient Empowerment Network
  • RetireSafe
  • The Kidney Foundation of Central PA
  • The National Grange
  • Triage Cancer
  • ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer

 

To view the full letter, click 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 www.nclnet.org.

Legislation is needed to close the environmental health gaps in the Polluters Pay Principle

By Eric Feigen, NCL Health Policy Intern

Today, more than 40% of Americans live in communities with unhealthy levels of air pollution and every year, millions of deaths and chronic illnesses have been found to be directly caused by various pollutant types. This represents the human cost inherent in environmental degradation. Despite this, policy-makers and regulatory agencies continue to ignore public health consequences when crafting legislation designed to address environmental issues nationwide.

The current approach towards addressing both climate change and environmental damage is rooted in the Polluters Pay Principle (PPP). This commonly accepted practice dictates that those who pollute are responsible for not only abatement costs, but also compensating those adversely affected by their actions. From the Clean Air Act to the more recent Inflation Reduction Act, PPP is the fundamental framework for the majority of environmental legislation in the U.S.

The core mechanism used in PPP is cost-benefit-analysis. Due to the fact that polluters receive a benefit from polluting, in the form of profits, they must correspondingly compensate individuals for the negative externality their pollution creates. For example, paying for a water treatment plant in order to ensure a safe water supply for a community.

One of the most significant externalities of pollution is long-term health conditions. High levels of particle air pollutants are linked to a variety of health issues including asthma, cancer, infant mortality, and premature death. However, as previously mentioned, while 40% of Americans live in places with failing grades in air quality, not all of these individuals have asthma. This illustrates the uncertainty inherent in including the costs to humans’ health in the PPP’s cost benefit analysis. Using this logic, Michigan v. EPA set the precedent for omitting the negative impact polluters have on health from PPP-based calculations.

The Public Health Air Quality Act is one solution to the uncertainty dilemma surrounding pollutants and chronic health conditions. This is because the Act sets thresholds for pollutant levels at the point where the pollutant becomes harmful to human health. In essence, while previous legislation has made polluters pay for the right to pollute, the standards in this legislation will prohibit contamination after the air quality reaches a dangerous level. Furthermore, the Act will also mandate new air pollution monitoring programs and allow the EPA to follow the “precautionary principle”, which errors on the side of safety when determining what levels of pollution may be harmful to humans.

Another arena where PPP must be supplemented is equity. While designed to reduce environmental damage nationwide, PPP fails to address how pollution disproportionately harms Black and Brown communities. An example of this is exposure to PM 2.5, an air pollutant responsible for upwards of 85,000 deaths a year. A recent study highlights that while the Clean Air Act has led to a nationwide decrease PM 2.5 related health conditions, the number of deaths this pollutant causes in communities of color has remained constant.

Climate change and environmental degradation are just as much a public health issue as they are an environmental one. Policy-makers have the obligation to create legislation to supplement PPP policies to mitigate the harm polluters inflict on public health and ensure an equitable approach to environmental regulation and cleanup.

 

National Consumers League weighs in on FDA’s OTC Hearing Aid Rule, encourages consumers to consult with medical professionals

August 17, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued its final rule enabling access to over-the-counter hearing aids for consumers with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss. National Consumers League (NCL) strongly supports expanding access to and affordability of hearing aids. NCL is encouraged by the positive impact these policy changes will have on increasing access to life-altering hearing aids. “We hope this means that more people will proactively assess their hearing loss and seek the help they need for their hearing health needs” said Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of NCL.

At the same time, while OTC hearing aids are a promising first step in achieving that goal, NCL remains concerned about potential consumer safety issues surrounding the use of OTC hearing aids without consultation of a trained, medical professional. NCL strongly encourages consumers to first consult with a medical professional before treating their perceived hearing loss with a hearing aid, including those that will be sold OTC.

Safety is the cornerstone of NCL’s mission. This is why NCL, along with 90 leading healthcare and consumer organizations, weighed in during the public comment period and via a group letter to FDA urging the agency to adopt lower the maximum outputs for OTC devices and establish a limit on gain. This limit has been recommended by leading hearing health professional organizations to ensure consumer safety. FDA ultimately lowered the maximum outputs in the final rule but decided against establishing a gain limitation. While we are pleased that the FDA recognized the need to lower the maximum outputs, we believe these devices could have been safer by limiting the amount of gain, as recommended by hearing care professionals. The lack of a gain limit, coupled with excessive amplification of sound for prolonged periods of time, may put some consumers at risk of experiencing increased hearing loss.

Because hearing loss is a medical condition that is unique to each individual, it should be addressed in consultation with a hearing care professional. With OTC hearing aids expected to be in stores as early as mid-October, NCL encourages consumers to purchase hearing aids in consultation with a professional who can help them fully understand the nature of their hearing loss, if any exists at all, and ensure that the treatment plan is appropriate for their needs, including the potential use of OTC hearing aids.

If consumers experience any adverse events or complications related to the use of OTC hearing aids, including worsening hearing after using such a device, NCL encourages consumers to report these events to the FDA. Instructions for reporting adverse events, are available at https://www.fda.gov/safety/medwatch, or by calling (800) FDA-1088.

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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 commends the enactment of the Inflation Reduction Act in increasing Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries’ access to adult vaccines

August 17, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC – The National Consumers League (NCL) is tremendously encouraged by the enactment of the Inflation Reduction Act (H.R. 5376), which includes important provisions to increase access to adult vaccines. More specifically, the Act will provide all recommended adult vaccines to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries at no cost to patients.

NCL has been a longstanding advocate of expanding vaccine access to consumers, and recognizes the importance of vaccines as a life-saving, preventive public health measure. As a member of the Adult Vaccine Access Coalition (AVAC), NCL supports increasing access to all recommended adult vaccines by eliminating no cost sharing policies, which can place an immense financial burden on patients. As with any other health service, cost burden has kept both Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries from receiving their recommended adult vaccines. Limiting vaccine access is harmful, and keeps adults from protecting themselves and their communities from preventable disease.

The crucial vaccine provisions within the Inflation Reduction Act include language from both the Protecting Seniors Through Immunization Act, and the Helping Adults Protect Immunity (HAPI) Act, both spearheaded by AVAC and advocated for by NCL. The Act will provide free recommended adult vaccines for both Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries starting in 2023. It also mandates that under Medicare Part D, there will be no copays or any other out-of-pocket expenses for any adult vaccine that is recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). In addition, Medicaid and CHIP will increase access to adult vaccines by improving federal reimbursement for providers that immunize those patients. Expanding access to vaccines through these mandates will promote vaccine uptake through the removal of cost burden for both Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.

The inclusion of these provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act is a critical step towards increasing vaccine access and coverage to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries nationwide. Its enactment will not only promote better health outcomes for consumers, but also represents a significant step towards expanding health equity. NCL appreciates President Biden’s swift action in signing this landmark piece of legislation yesterday.

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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.

Gun violence is a public health problem

By Eric Feigen, NCL Health Policy Summer 2022 Intern

We live in a nation where children fear for their lives at school, racially motivated killings are pervasive, and mass shootings have become commonplace. The United States is in the midst of a gun violence epidemic. One promising avenue that could help address this crisis involves approaching gun violence from a public health perspective. By developing strategies aimed at protecting the health and safety of people and communities, we can develop a policy framework for reducing incidences of gun violence and suicide.

Of the 24,897 people who have died from gun violence in 2022, 13,530 people have lost their lives to suicide. To compound this loss, National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates that 45 percent of people who take their own lives visit their primary care physicians within a month of their death. Many Americans are reaching out for support. However, due to the inaccessibility of mental health services, people cannot receive the help they desperately need. According to the American Psychological Association, in 2018, 39 percent of people could not afford the cost of receiving mental health services. Even for those with healthcare coverage, 26 percent choose to forgo treatment because their copays are too high.

There are a wide range of public health policies that could be implemented to remedy this issue. The first task is improving accessibility. A survey by the Health Resources and Services Administration indicates that the demand for mental health services far exceeds the number of professionals in the field and some primary care professionals receive no training in suicide assessment or management. In addition, many Americans have to travel immense distances to receive mental health treatment. The pandemic has illustrated the effectiveness of telehealth as a solution to this issue, however programs such as fellowships, outreach seminars, and more must be put into place to increase the number of health professionals in the field.

Gun violence in America is also an equity issue, disproportionately affecting communities of color. This has created a cycle of violence which places children at an increased risk for gun violence exposure earlier in life. A NIH study indicates that the prevalence of gun violence during childhood increases interactions with firearms later in life to a medium to large effect. This leads to the second policy issue that must be addressed: improving access to quality mental health services in order to break cycles of violence.

To accomplish this, policies designed to incentivize and increase the number of psychiatric practitioners of color must be put into effect. Not only do Black and Brown mental health professionals have a better understanding of the challenges their communities face, but studies indicate that white mental health workers often misdiagnose minority patients leading to counterproductive treatment. In 2019, racial/ethnic minorities made up only 17 percent of the psychologist workforce, illustrating how marginalized communities have disproportionately less access to quality mental health services in comparison to their white counterparts.

The social determinants of health; healthcare, housing, economic mobility, and more are inescapably linked to the root causes of gun violence. In addition to those listed above, policy solutions include:

  • Expanding healthcare coverage to include mental health services
  • Tightening regulations on opioids and other dangerous prescription drugs to create safe and healthy environments
  • Including safeguards against measures intended to limit an individual’s right to treatment such as the lack of affordability of clinically prescribed medication
  • Ensuring that for those currently receiving effective treatment, their medication is not switched to a less effective alternative just because it is cheaper
  • Expanding Extreme Risk Protection Order laws
  • Promoting health equity as those facing adverse health conditions are at higher risk for experiencing violence. This includes increasing access to:
  • vaccines, including COVID-19
  • treatment for chronic conditions, such as diabetes
  • healthy fresh foods and vegetables
  • Increasing research devoted to tackling gun violence as an investment in national public health

While many forms of gun control legislation have been written off as politically impossible, there are other solutions Congress can enact to mitigate the gun epidemic. Approaching the issue from a public health perspective is an effective avenue policymakers can take for ensuring that the gun-related tragedies, which now seem omnipresent in America, harm fewer people in the future.

NCL applauds the FDA for renewing its focus on infant formula

July 14, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC— The National Consumers League (NCL) applauds the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for taking strong steps to assure consumers that infant formula coming from overseas has been properly inspected and is free from contaminants or adulterants and therefore safe for infants.

“Consumers should have confidence that the infant formula that is being imported to the U.S. … involved a thorough review of the information provided by the companies, including details about the product’s nutritional adequacy and safety, microbiological testing results, labeling information, and importantly, details about the manufacturing facility’s food safety production practices and inspection history,” according to a press statement posted on FDA.gov.

Over the past few months NCL, the nation’s oldest consumer advocacy organization, has issued several statements on the infant formula shortage. The shortage was caused primarily by the unconscionable and unsanitary practices at Abbott’s Michigan infant formula facility when it failed to follow safety protocols, falsified documents to the FDA, and then shipped contaminated formula resulting in babies contracting foodborne illnesses and as many as nine infant deaths, according to FDA documents. Abbott’s reckless actions – coupled with the FDA’s slow response to the outbreak – finally lead to both parties issuing a recall of the faulty formula and ultimately triggered a nationwide shortage of powdered infant formula.

As FDA renews its focus on infant formula, NCL applauds the agency’s determined outreach to keep parents informed about how to read food labels from products made abroad. These labels use metric measurements that consumers in the United States may not easily comprehend. Most importantly, FDA has ramped up inspections of the products to ensure good and safe manufacturing processes.

Below are several statements on the infant formula crisis issued by NCL in the past few months, one of which includes our June 16 testimony before a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee.

https://nclnet.org/ncl-applauds-fda-response-formula-shortage/

https://nclnet.org/senate-testimony-consolidation-harms-consumers/

https://nclnet.org/baby-formula-shortage/

 

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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.

A New Patient-Centered Action Agenda calls for people with obesity to have the same rights and access to care as people with other chronic diseases

July 7, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC— The National Consumers League (NCL) today released A New Patient-Centered Obesity Action Agenda: Changing the Trajectory of Obesity Through Patient Empowerment, Health Professional Intervention and Supportive Government Policies, a new report with a blueprint to change how Americans think about obesity, empower people with obesity to get the best care, and afford those with obesity the same access to care as adults with other serious chronic diseases.

Issued as a call to action, the report was prepared in consultation with a panel of leading obesity specialists as a roadmap for overcoming one of the difficult challenges affecting US adults now living with obesity: despite significant advances in the understanding and treatment of obesity, only 10 percent of people with obesity get help from medical professionals,[1] meaning the disease remains largely undiagnosed and undertreated. Accordingly, only 30 million[2] of the estimated 108 million adults living with obesity[3] have been diagnosed with the disease and only around 2 percent of those eligible for anti-obesity medications have been prescribed these drugs.[4]

The consequences of undertreatment affect virtually every aspect of the healthcare system. Obesity not only has a negative impact on almost every aspect of health and well-being, but it worsens the outcomes of over 230 obesity-related chronic diseases, from type 2 diabetes and heart disease to some forms of cancer.[5] Accordingly, obesity is responsible for an approximately 300,000 premature deaths each year[6] deaths and costs the U.S. economy an estimated $1.72 trillion annually in direct and indirect costs.[7]

“Although obesity is one of today’s most visible public health problems, it is often ignored and discounted as a serious disease, resulting in a health crisis that has only worsened with time,” said
Sally Greenberg, NCL’s Executive Director. “This report focuses attention on the numerous public perception, provider and policy-related factors that preclude Americans with overweight and obesity from getting effective treatment and must be addressed if obesity outcomes are to improve in the US.”

To change the trajectory of the obesity epidemic, the report calls for a national mobilization to overcome the “human” factors– incorrect beliefs about the cause and treatment of obesity, prejudice towards people due to their size, lack of training for health providers, access barriers, and outdated government policies – that continue to prevent Americans from seeking and obtaining obesity care. Towards this end, NCL’s patient-centered action agenda identifies nine priorities for action:

  1. Redefine Obesity for the American Public as a Treatable Chronic Disease

Although the American Medical Association classifies obesity as a chronic disease requiring treatment, three-quarters of Americans believe obesity results from a lack of willpower. Thus, redefining obesity as a treatable chronic condition will provide a new context for health providers and patients to have a positive discussion about weight, leading to more people getting diagnosed and treated.

  1. Adopt Patient-First Language for Obesity

Unlike other chronic diseases where health professionals use people-first language that puts a person before a diagnosis, practitioners routinely use terms to describe obesity that can be off-putting and demoralizing. To change this situation, the National Consumers supports the agenda of the People-First Initiative launched by the Obesity Action Coalition, which advocates for widespread adoption of people-first language by practitioners in all healthcare settings.

  1. Make Combatting Weight Stigma a National Priority

Studies show that 40 percent of healthcare professionals –physicians, nurses, dietitians, psychologists and medical students – admit to having negative reactions based on a person’s size.[8]Addressing this pervasive problem requires a unified national initiative that makes the impact of weight stigma “real” for clinicians and the public and disseminates the latest information to health providers on strategies to reduce weight stigma.

  1. Elevate the Need for Physician Training in Obesity

A recent study of 40 US medical schools finds that 30 percent of these institutions provide little or no education in nutrition and obesity interventions while one third of schools reported no obesity education programs in place.[9] These findings underscore the urgency for US medical schools to change their priorities and develop curricula that comprehensively addresses the disease of obesity.

  1. Establish Excess Weight as a Vital Sign

Besides body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and respiration, health providers routinely measure height and weight at each visit. Thus, if healthcare professionals were to calculate and provide patients with their Body Mass Index (BMI) at the time of the office visit, practitioners could have a tool to discuss excess weight when patients are most receptive to discussing their health status.  It is recognized that BMI is a crude measure and not the sole predictor of obesity but when combined with patient-friendly information that explains the level of weight and options for treatment, this interaction could initiate a positive, respectful conversation about obesity care.

  1. Provide the Tools for a Doctor-Patient Dialogue on Excess Weight

A major reason primary care providers (PCPs) are reluctant to provide obesity counseling is the lack of informational tools to have conversations with patients about their weight status and care options. Therefore, a unified effort to make available to PCPs evidence-based, patient-friendly content on obesity will facilitate a better dialogue between clinicians and patients and promote shared decision-making.

  1. Establish Coverage of Obesity as a Standard Benefit Across Insurers and Health Plans

Although employers and insurers are starting to cover treatment options for obesity in employee benefit packages, too many people continue to be denied coverage or face access barriers, such as step therapy and prior authorization, that delay treatment. Improving obesity outcomes therefore requires supporting legislative efforts, like the “Safe Step Act” that would require group health plans to provide an exception process for step-therapy protocols. It also necessitates collaboration among payers, providers, policymakers, and advocates to establish a standard, affordable benefit for the prevention and treatment of obesity that applies across plan types and payers.

  1. End Outdated Medicare Rules That Exclude Coverage for Necessary Obesity Care

Today, the many millions of Americans enrolled in the Medicare program are denied safe and effective obesity treatment due to outdated Medicare Part D rules that exclude coverage for FDA-approved obesity drugs and Medicare Part B policies that places undue restrictions on intensive behavioral therapy by allowing only primary care providers to deliver IBT and severely restricting the physical locations where this care can occur. Congress has the power to change this situation, which is why NCL has joined with the obesity, public health and nutrition communities is pressing for swift passage of the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA). The proposed legislation would expand Medicare coverage to allow access to IBT from a diverse range of healthcare providers while ending the exclusion for new anti-obesity medications that are improving the standard of care for adult Americans with obesity.

  1. Create a Patients’ Bill of Rights for People with Obesity

For too long, people with obesity have been stigmatized, discriminated against, and have faced significant hurdles and burdensome requirements to receive care. Changing this situation will require giving people with obesity the knowledge, skills and confidence to be advocates for their best obesity care. Therefore, NCL’s patient-centered obesity action agenda calls for the creation of a Patients’ Bill of Rights for People with Obesity based on the recognition that obesity is a treatable disease and everyone with obesity deserves the same level of attention and care as those with other chronic conditions.

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About the Report

To prepare the report, NCL partnered with the Obesity Care Advocacy Network (OCAN) to host a roundtable discussion in December 2021where public health specialists, leading professional societies, the minority health field and the obesity policy community assessed the state of the science on obesity today, the scope and cost of the disease in the US and the major barriers impeding quality obesity care with special attention to the “human” obstacles that keep people with obesity from seeking or obtaining treatment. Additionally, NCL conducted a literature review to gather additional insights, especially regarding how to change how people with obesity see themselves, so they become empowered to advocate for their care as patients with a chronic disease. Based on this assessment, NCL drafted the report, which was vetted by experts participating in the roundtable, and developed the policy recommendations included in the Patient-Centered Obesity Action Agenda.

 

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.

 

[1] Stokes A, et al. Prevalence and Determinants of Engagement with Obesity Care in the United States. Obesity. Vol. 26, Issue 5; May 2018, 814-818

[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] Allison DB, et al. Annual deaths attributable to obesity in the United States JAMA 1999Oct 27 282(16)1530–8.

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

[8] Fruh SM, et al. Obesity Stigma and Bias. J Nurse Pract. 2016 Jul-Aug; 12(7): 425–432.

[9] Butch WS, et al. Low priority of obesity education leads to lack of medical student’ preparedness to effectively treat patients with obesity; results from the U.S. medical school obesity education benchmark study. BMC Med Educ 20, 23 (2020)

The National Consumers League commends the FDA’s decision to ban JUUL e-cigarettes

June 27, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC— NCL applauds the FDA’s decision to ban JUUL e-cigarettes and believes that this is a significant first step towards curtailing the ongoing vaping epidemic. After a blistering and aggressive social media campaign in 2017, JUUL emerged at the forefront of the e-cigarette industry. Targeted advertisement towards youth and the production of fruit flavored nicotine pods highlighted the company’s flagrant disregard for public health and safety. JUUL is a central contributor to the rising rates of nicotine addiction in youth, according to the FDA. The FDA did its job in banning the company’s further advertising and sale of vaping products.

A large increase in the use of e-cigarettes among youth has occurred in recent years. Research indicates that vaping among high school students rose from 2.4 percent in 2019 to 26.5 percent in 2020 – a 1000 percent increase. Eight out of ten teenagers use flavored products and an estimated 59 percent of high school and 54 percent of middle school students who vape prefer JUUL as their brand of choice. As a consumer watchdog, NCL finds JUUL’s deliberate youth-targeted marketing and lack of health transparency shocking. This has led to our children purchasing their products without fully understanding the risk vaping poses to their health.

The FDA’s assessment of the data JUUL provided for their application to sell their products was that it was “insufficient and conflicting”. The agency also expressed concern about the potential toxicological risks of JUUL products. The adverse effects of e-cigarette usage are known. The immediate side effects include, but are not limited to, shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness, and coughing. Long-term, the vaporization of e-cigarette juice pushes ultrafine particles deep into the lungs. This can lead to damaged lung tissue, respiratory issues, reproductive complications, and harm adolescent neurodevelopment.

It is clear that the vaping epidemic jeopardizes consumers’ health and must be addressed. According to the CDC, tobacco product use is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States. As an organization dedicated to advocating for consumer health and safety, NCL believes that the FDA’s JUUL ban will help mitigate this public health crisis, but for the sake of our children, regulatory agencies and policy-makers must continue to push forward in addressing this issue.

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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 denounces today’s SCOTUS ruling overturning Roe v. Wade

June 24, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC— Almost 50 years since the Supreme Court ruling in 1973, Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion, the protections provided by Roe were overturned today by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). The ruling is a devastating blow to women, girls, and their families who have long fought for equal access to reproductive health services – health services which includes access to safe abortion, says the National Consumers League (NCL).

“Many women will suffer and will suffer unnecessarily from this egregious ruling by SCOTUS,” says Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of NCL. “This decision is an attack on poor women or low-income woman, who represent 75% of abortion patients,” according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

The final opinion is strikingly similar to the draft that was leaked in May of this year and authored by Justice Samuel Alito. In the opinion, Alito writes, “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

In the wake of this June 24 ruling, 26 states are expected to ban all or nearly all abortions.

Justice Clarence Thomas, in his concurring opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, laid out a vision that fomented fears about what other rights could disappear: the same rationale that the Supreme Court used to declare there was no right to abortion, he said, should also be used to overturn cases establishing rights to contraception, same-sex consensual relations and same-sex marriage.

In their joint dissent, the three liberal justices of the court, argued that the ruling will affect “countless life decisions.” They also noted that, “It says that from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of.”

“NCL applauds responses from many employers, including JPMorgan Chase, which is clarifying its health care benefits in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade on Friday, saying that abortion has long been a covered service for the bank and starting in July will be included under the company’s health care travel benefit,” says Greenberg. “We applaud Levi Strauss & Co — the 169-year-old jean company — stands strongly against restricting access to abortion and said it will continue to protect employees — making sure they have access to the care they need regardless of where they live.

NCL also thanks officials in many states and the District of Columbia that have pledged to provide abortion access and safe havens including New Hampshire, Michigan, New York governors along with New York Attorney General Letitia James and DC Mayor Muriel Bowser.

In his address to the nation today, President Joe Biden expressed his disappointment over the SCOTUS ruling: “This is a sad day for the country in my view, but it doesn’t mean the fight is over.” He also added that his administration will use all its appropriate lawful powers and that “Congress must act.” He went on to say, “with your vote, you can act.”

NCL believes that women’s reproductive rights is fundamental and must be protected; this radical decision by the Supreme Court is vastly out of step with American public opinion and a disastrous for women’s rights and freedoms.  We will continue to advocate for federal, state and local protections for women across the country, in keeping with NCL’s long history of championing the rights of women and children, especially those among us who are most vulnerable.

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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 provided oral testimony to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices in support of new pneumococcal vaccine recommendations for adults 65 years of age and older

June 22, 2022

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC— On June 22, 2022, NCL’s Health Policy Associate Milena Berhane provided oral testimony to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices in support of new pneumococcal vaccine recommendations for adults 65 years of age and older. NCL comments appear below.

Thank you, Dr. Lee. My name is Milena Berhane, and today I am representing the National Consumers League. Since NCL’s founding in 1899 by social reformer Florence Kelley, we have advocated for the critical role immunizations play in the preservation and improvement of public health. We extend our gratitude to this Committee for the opportunity to present public comments.

According to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), pneumococcal disease is a leading cause of serious illness throughout the world. In the US, nearly 50,000 people die each year from pneumonia. The death rate is even higher in those age 65 years and older. Vaccination is a critical public health measure for preventing disease, hospitalizations, and death, so it is critical that access to the pneumococcal vaccine is expanded.

We are concerned about the lack of clarity surrounding the current ACIP recommendations regarding the pneumococcal vaccine, for adults ages 65 years of age and older. It is critical that the recommendations for this age groups are clear, so that patients and providers are better able to understand who should receive which vaccine, and when. The pneumococcal vaccine will continue to be a safe and effective measure in protecting Americans from disease, and it is imperative that older adults are able to receive them.

Having clear recommendations for adults 65 years of age and older is also critical in addressing health equity issues, especially among older Black and Latinx populations that already face issues in lacking access to health care. Pneumococcal vaccine uptake needs to increase in these populations so that currently existing health disparities are not further exacerbated. Therefore, in order to promote health equity among all older adults and increase vaccination rates, it is critical that clear recommendations are provided for this age group.

The National Consumers League recognizes the extreme importance of immunizations in protecting the health and safety of all Americans, and will continue its efforts to increase vaccine confidence and uptake across lifespan. We look forward to the upcoming recommendations by this committee regarding the pneumococcal vaccine for older adults.

Thank you.

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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.