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.

National Consumers League supports table saw safety standard proposed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission

December 8, 2023

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

Washington, DC – The National Consumers League (NCL) submitted comments to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) this week on the Commission’s proposed rule to require a safety standard for all table saws. The “Safety Standard Addressing Blade-Contact Injuries on Table Saws” proposal is projected to prevent more injuries and save more money than any rule ever proposed at the agency.

“NCL applauds the CPSC for moving toward a final rule to make table saws safe and to prevent the over 50,000 injuries – many of them finger amputations – that occur each year from table saw accidents,” said NCL CEO Sally Greenberg.

Pam Gilbert, NCL Board member and former Executive Director of the CPSC noted, “The matter of table saw safety has been an ongoing concern of the CPSC and National Consumers League for more than a decade; we believe this rule would finally bring much-needed safety technology to this ubiquitous woodshop tool found in millions of US households.”

Previous voluntary standards have been ineffective in preventing injuries, thus the need for this mandatory safety standard using proven effective technology that prevents serious injuries from table saws. Indeed, a 15-year trend analysis (from 2004 to 2018) of table saw injuries showed no reduction in table saw injuries from 2010 to 2018, despite the fact that a voluntary standard that became effective in 2010 required new table saws to be equipped with modular blade guard systems.

The Commission expects that the proposed rule would prevent or mitigate an estimated 49,176 injuries treated in hospital emergency departments or other medical settings per year and that net cost benefits, even when factoring the cost of the technology, would range from $1.28 billion to $2.32 billion per year.

The proposed rule would limit the depth of cut of a table saw to 3.5 mm or less when a test probe, acting as surrogate for a human finger or other body part, contacts the spinning blade at an approach rate of 1 m/s. CPSC staff estimated that the proposed rule would prevent or mitigate the severity of 54,800 medically treated blade-contact injuries annually.

To read the views of woodworkers themselves, this YouTube link tells first-hand accounts, some of which have been included in NCL’s comments. One is below:

“My father cut all four of his fingers off with a Radial arm saw years ago. Three fingers are bolted back together so he can only move them at the knuckle, the index finger was lost due to infection. He had to have a skin graft on all his fingers pulled from his thigh, so they now all grow hair so he has to shave them otherwise they grow hair. In airports, he always sets off the metal detectors. When I was looking at table saws about 8 years ago it was between the sawstop contractor (hybrid wasn’t out yet) and Powermatic 3hp cabinet. My father was with me at the time while I was a teenager at woodcraft. One look at his hand and it was obvious which saw I walked out with. 8 years later I still use the Sawstop contractor saw and it looks just like when I bought it, Its a fantastic investment and probably the only one that is relatively easy to justify to your wife. “

As Commissioner Rich Trumka, himself a woodworker, observed in his comments “…[t]he rule would provide the greatest net benefit to society of any rule in the agency’s history that I’m aware of—up to a $2.32 billion net benefit every year.”

The National Consumers League fully supports this Proposed Rule and greatly appreciates the years of dedication and work from the CPSC’s engineers, statisticians, and economists and the leadership of CPSC Chair Alex Hoehn Saric in moving this to the top of the Commission’s agenda.

NCL’s comments 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.

Obesity medicine specialists, health providers, insurers and employers urged to make obesity treatment a right of all Americans

October 13, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Nancy Glick, nancyg@nclnet.org, 202-823-8442 NCOA –Simona Combi, Simona.combi@ncoa.org, 571-527-3982

Washington, D.C. – With growing evidence that U.S. adults with obesity feel stigmatized and ignored by their health care providers, the National Consumers League (NCL) and National Council on Aging (NCOA) today urged health professionals, insurers and employers to join a national movement to define quality obesity care as a right for every American.

Taking the case directly to health professionals on the front lines in delivering obesity care, NCL and NCOA used The Obesity Society’s annual meeting in Dallas October 14-17 to announce plans to provide Americans with an Obesity Bill of Rights.  Today, over 100 million adults are living with obesity[1] (42 percent of the public), yet only 10 percent get help from medical professionals.[2] An Obesity Bill of Rights has the potential to transform obesity care by empowering Americans to demand the respect of their health providers and to be screened, diagnosed, and effectively treated for their obesity based on medical treatment guidelines.

“For too long, adults with obesity have encountered a healthcare system that works against them. They are stigmatized, discriminated against, not treated with respect by their health providers, and confront significant obstacles in receiving the care they deserve. ” said Sally Greenberg, Chief Executive Officer of the National Consumers League. “This must change; we need an overhaul of the health system, and we believe an Obesity Bill of Rights can drive this transformation.”

Because this change will only happen if there is agreement on a set of basic rights that ensure adults with obesity receive respectful, timely, and effective obesity care, NCL and NCOA unveiled www.Right2ObesityCare.org, a new online engagement platform, so the nation’s health providers, insurers and employers can play a role in developing the Obesity Bill of Rights.  Right2ObesityCare.org explains the purpose and research-driven process and encourages a wide range of health professionals – from obesity medicine specialists and physicians to dietitians, nutritionists, exercise physiologists, health educators, and mental health professionals – to contribute their ideas.

Town Halls Chart the Obstacles for Adults with Obesity and Their Providers

Along with hearing from health professionals, the Obesity Bill of Rights will be informed by the insights of both adults with obesity and their health providers who participated in four town hall meetings that NCL and NCOA hosted across the country. Held in senior centers and churches in

California, Delaware, Mississippi, and Oklahoma between June and August 2023, the town halls involved more than 250 older adults, community leaders, and local clinicians who laid bare a healthcare system that is inhospitable to delivering quality obesity care.                                                        

When asked to share their experiences, older adults attending the town halls spoke of feeling invisible when seeing a health provider, not being listened to, and being treated with disdain when they initiated conversations about their obesity. At the same time, physicians described feeling inadequate to provide obesity care due to the limited time for counseling, not enough training in obesity management, inadequate coverage and reimbursement for obesity care, and needing better tools to help patients recognize obesity risks. This confirms research that finds adults with excess weight often feel unwelcome in the doctor’s office or believe that seeking help for obesity signifies moral failure. [3]

“This is a chronic condition that no one wants to talk about,” said Ramsey Alwin, NCOA President and CEO. “For several decades, NCOA has worked to empower older adults to better manage their chronic conditions. To break down barriers related to obesity, we held town halls that allowed both older adults and their health providers to relay their lived experiences. What we learned is that encouraging more people to seek obesity care requires an investment in science-based, easy-to-understand, accessible information about obesity; a healthcare system that encourages informed decision-making and patient-centered care; and effective public policy that requires health plans to provide access to the treatments deemed appropriate by the health provider, including lifestyle interventions, FDA-approved weight loss medications, and bariatric surgery.”

Mobilizing for Change
With the townhalls as a guidepost, NCL and NCOA are now leading a rigorous process to finalize and release the Obesity Bill of Rights to the medical community and public before the end of 2023. The process includes hosting a meeting of top experts to review a preliminary draft with recommendations for refinement. NCL and NCOA will also seek feedback from specialists in minority health, aging, and rural health, as well as health professionals and other stakeholders who offer advice through the online engagement platform.

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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 (NCOA) 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] 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.

[2] 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

[3] Gunther S, et al. Barriers and enablers to managing obesity in general practice: a practical approach for use in implementation activities. Qual Prim Care. 2012; 20: 93-103

NCL applauds Biden Administration’s continued actions to combat junk fees

October 11, 2023

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

Washington, D.C. – The National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s oldest consumer advocacy organization, today applauded the White House’s announcement of additional whole-of-government efforts to crack down on hidden junk fees that drain consumers’ pocketbooks and reduce competition.

NCL singled out, in particular, the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) proposed rule prohibiting junk fees and bogus charges across the economy. NCL previously supported a petition urging the Commission to begin such a rulemaking. The League also praised the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s action to bar the imposition of fees on consumers seeking basic information, such as bank account balances or loan repayment information.

“Over the last two years, the Biden Administration has championed the cause of ridding the American economy of hidden charges and promoting economic competition on behalf of American consumers,” said NCL Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sally Greenberg. “Thanks to consumer advocacy and the federal government’s efforts, many of the biggest banks have reduced or eliminated predatory overdraft fees. This Administration’s actions to address industry consolidation have also reinvigorated discussions about antitrust law and put fair treatment of average Americans as the focus of national policy. The League commends these agencies’ actions to protect consumers throughout the marketplace.”

NCL has been working with the White House, federal agencies, and partners in Congress to rein in the scourge of junk fees. Last month, NCL Vice President of Public Policy John Breyault testified before the U.S. House of Representatives on various ways to address the use of predatory fees in live event ticketing and hotels and short-term lodging. In June, NCL CEO Greenberg testified in the U.S. Senate on the need to end corporations’ “addiction” to junk fees. And in February, NCL joined 42 other advocacy organizations in comments to the FTC supporting a wide-sweeping federal regulation to prohibit the use of predatory and deceptive fees.

Today’s announcement comes just a few weeks after the FTC and U.S. Department of Justice completed the first stages of implementing new guidelines informing how the agencies evaluate whether business acquisitions and mergers would violate federal law. NCL’s comments supporting these new 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 supports President Biden’s nominee for Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration

October 3, 2023

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

Washington, D.C. – Today, the National Consumers League (NCL) urged the U.S. Senate to swiftly confirm President Biden’s nominee for Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Michael G. Whitaker. Despite a growing number of problems under the FAA’s jurisdiction—including an alarming number of near-misses involving passenger aircraft—the Administration has lacked a Senate-confirmed Administrator for eighteen months. 

The following statement is attributable to NCL Chief Executive Officer Sally Greenberg: 

“The FAA has been without a permanent administrator for too long. Without strong leadership, the agency will struggle to fulfill critical consumer protection mandates, including Congress’s 2018 directive that the agency set minimum seat sizes on airplanes. The Senate should act to restore the full strength of the Administration and confirm Mr. Whitaker as FAA Administrator.”  

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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 supports updated merger guidelines

September 20, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, 202-823-8442

Washington, D.C. – The National Consumers League sent a letter in support of the draft merger guidelines that the U.S. Department of Justice  and the Federal Trade Commission proposed in July of this year. The guidelines reflect an approach to antitrust enforcement that is grounded in statute and judicial precedent and are a significant improvement from the narrower focus of previous enforcement regimes. By centering market competition as the goal of antitrust law, the DOJ and FTC can appropriately act to protect consumers and workers when mergers pose a threat to the public. 

The full 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.

National Consumers League urges Ticketmaster to refund Springsteen fans

September 11, 2023

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

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Consumers League (“NCL”) today urged Ticketmaster to immediately offer refunds to fans who purchased tickets to Bruce Springsteen’s postponed concerts. Due to illness, the rock icon recently announced indefinite postponements of the remainder of the concerts currently scheduled for September. According to Ticketmaster’s Purchase Policy, consumers will only be able to obtain refunds when the postponed concerts are rescheduled for a date to be determined.

The following statement is attributable to NCL Chief Executive Officer, Sally Greenberg:

“Like millions of other fans, our best wishes go out to Bruce Springsteen in light of his pressing medical issues, and we wish him a speedy recovery. Throughout his career, he has put his fans first. However, given the announcement that multiple upcoming concerts have been postponed to a date to be determined, we are concerned that consumers are not being given the option by Ticketmaster to obtain refunds for their tickets. Due to Ticketmaster’s policies, millions of dollars in fans’ funds are stuck in limbo, potentially for months or even longer.

We understand that many of Springsteen’s fans may opt to hold onto their tickets and will plan to see The Boss when his concerts are rescheduled. Until then, Ticketmaster will almost certainly be earning interest on fans’ funds that are locked up due to the company’s refund policy. Essentially, due to its policies, Ticketmaster is forcing fans to give the company an interest-free loan for an indeterminate period. It is a bedrock consumer protection principle that when a consumer does not get a product she paid for, a prompt refund should be issued. Ticketmaster should give consumers the option to immediately obtain refunds not just for Bruce Springsteen’s concerts, but for all postponed events going forward.”

 

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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 Senate committee to pass the College for All Act

August 28, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown, katie@nclnet.org, 202-823-8442

Washington, D.C. – Today, the National Consumers League (NCL) urged the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance to favorably report the College for All Act of 2023.

The National Consumers League1 (NCL) urges the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance to favorably report S.1963, or the College for All Act of 2023, without delay. The College for All Act would transform the nation’s system of higher education by allowing millions of students to pursue college degrees that they otherwise could not afford. Additionally, it would prevent student debt from continuing to burden future attendees of higher learning, a significant issue currently affecting graduates, individuals with partial educational attainment, and parents of students.” 

The full 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.