DC Attorney General files consumer protection lawsuit against football team and its owners

November 9, 2022

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

Washington D.C.— District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine announced today that he has filed a consumer protection lawsuit against the Washington Commanders, their owner Daniel Snyder, the National Football League (NFL), and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for allegedly colluding to deceive DC residents about an NFL investigation into the team’s toxic workplace culture, which includes sexual harassment.

The National Consumers League is pleased that DC Attorney General Karl Racine can use the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Procedures Act (DC CPPA) to address broad ranging issues of public concern with respect to this lawsuit. NCL had a hand in the drafting and passage of this important consumer protection legislation, which was originally introduced by DC Councilmember Mary Cheh and adopted into law in 2012 and further strengthened with later amendments.

“We think that Attorney General Racine’s application of this consumer protection statute underscores the importance of broadly protective statutes that address fraud and deception,” says NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg.

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)

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

The National Consumers League applauds the FDA for promptly responding to the infant formula shortage

June 2, 2022

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

This statement can be attributed to Sally Greenberg, NCL’s Executive Director:

“Today, NCL commends the Food and Drug Administration for taking strong and decisive actions to relieve the shortage in infant formula caused by the recall of a tainted product. We called upon the FDA to act and they did! We thank Commissioner Rob Califf for responding decisively to calls from Congress and affected families across the country. So far, the FDA’s efforts to import formula from approved providers in Australia and other nations on FDA’s list are helping to alleviate the shortage in record time. On May 19, NCL issued a statement on the infant formula shortage, placing responsibility squarely on the Abbott Lab facility in Michigan, whose manufacturing practices led to tainted products that injured and killed infants. Those lapses triggered a recall and created the shortage. Now the FDA is working 24/7 to get infant formula back on the shelves and are doing so admirably.”

May 19 statement on infant 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.

NCL issues recommendations to avoid another baby formula shortage

May 19, 2022

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

Washington, D.C. – The National Consumers League shares the very real concerns of new parents regarding the recent shortage of infant formula. Our hearts also go out to parents who have lost babies due to contaminated powdered formula and those whose infants suffered devastating health consequences from the contaminated product.

We appreciate the FDA’s multifaceted approach to increase infant formula supply, including allowing foreign manufacturers of baby formula to sell their products in the U.S. Additionally, the Biden Administration has implemented the Defense Production Act, which will be important in increasing production by requiring suppliers to prioritize getting needed inputs to the infant formula manufacturers. Initiating the DPA also allows the Administration to use Department of Defense contracts with commercial cargo lines to speed the transport of foreign products into the U.S. and onto store shelves across the country. These actions are critical steps in combatting this formula shortage issue.  We applaud Congress for supporting emergency legislation to address the formula shortage.

However, while addressing the shortage is the most pressing issue, first and foremost, the responsibility lies with the Abbott facility in Michigan whose reckless actions set events into motion. Abbott failed to follow safety protocols, falsified documents to the FDA and then shipped contaminated formula exposing our most vulnerable little consumers to foodborne illnesses. Those actions triggered an FDA investigation and subsequent recall, leading to the current shortage.

We are also troubled that the FDA, for its part, took almost two months to act on the whistleblower complaint sent to the agency in October 2021. That report cited unsanitary conditions, contamination of formula, and serious allegations against company officials at the Abbott Facility in Michigan. This complaint should have received immediate attention given the vulnerability of infants, whose immune systems are just developing. This plant is also responsible for producing a great deal of the formula sold to federal WIC program. (The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children). We think both civil and criminal charges are in order. The shortage demands that the FDA source infant formula from countries already approved for importing formula. It’s also time to create a single food safety agency and create an office to oversee the safety and supply of infant formula.

A summary of NCL’s recommendations include:

  1. Immediate sourcing of infant formula from countries that are already approved to import the product
  2. Opening the Abbott plant once the FDA can reach an agreement with the company to ensure production of infant formula will be under strictest safety and quality control.
  3. A full investigation of the Abbott facility, and criminal and civil charges brought against those who falsified data or knowingly allowed the shipment of contaminated formula
  4. Expansion of the number of companies making infant formula
  5. Creation of a single food safety agency and appointment of a baby formula safety and supply chain expert

Infants are our most vulnerable and precious consumers and they rely on us to protect them. We have let them down and safety provisions must be put in place to ensure that this never happens again. NCL stands ready to work with Congress, consumers, businesses, and the FDA to ensure the safety of infant formula is never compromised again.

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About the National Consumers League (NCL) 

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

 

National Consumers League urges Congress not to allow credit bureaus’ credit scoring company to dominate the credit scoring system

May 13, 2022

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

Washington, D.C. –

The National Consumers League has sent a letter to the Chairs of the Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committees asking these leaders to conduct adequate oversight on the nation’s credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. “The three bureaus keep financial records and establish credit scores for hundreds of millions of Americans. For years, consumer organizations like ours have been raising questions about the behavior and actions of these entities, who in recent years have together created their own credit scoring company called VantageScore.”

The letter noted that “On April 12th of this year, the Consumer Finance Protection Board (CFPB) filed a lawsuit against credit bureau TransUnion and their long-time CEO for willfully violating the law and defrauding consumers, with CFPB’s director saying that ‘TransUnion is an out-of-control repeat offender that believes it is above the law.’  The letter also noted that “In September of 2017, the nation learned that another of the big three, Equifax, had been breached and the financial records of close to 150 million Americans had been compromised. “Investigations …found that Equifax had failed to protect the data that they had been entrusted with and a global settlement was reached.”  The letter goes on to say “… the three credit bureaus own a credit scoring company called VantageScore. Vantage Score is vigorously lobbying the FHFA to spend millions of dollars to change the credit scoring system for the GSEs in order to win market share.”

The letter urges these members of Congress to “ask tough questions and share your concerns directly with the FHFA, especially before that agency takes any action that could send millions of dollars into the pockets of VantageScore.”

Read the letter 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.

 

National Consumers League statement on the confirmation of Alvaro Bedoya as FTC Commissioner

May 11, 2022

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

Washington, D.C. – The National Consumers League (“NCL”), America’s pioneering consumer advocacy organization, today applauded the U.S. Senate for confirming Alvaro Bedoya to be the next Federal Trade Commissioner. The following statement is attributable to NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg:

“American consumers are better off today because Alvaro Bedoya will be fighting for their interests at the Federal Trade Commission. As a champion of privacy rights, particularly the rights of consumers from historically marginalized communities, Bedoya has been at the forefront of efforts to protect consumers from intrusive surveillance by businesses and governments. We look forward to working with him as the FTC continues its important mission of protection consumers and promoting competition.”

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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 applauds FDA proposal to ban menthol cigarettes

May 4, 2022

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

Washington, D.C. – The National Consumers League (NCL) applauds the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposed rule to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. This long overdue ban is a critical public health measure that is expected to save the hundreds of thousands of lives lost to lung cancer, and other smoking-related morbidities. The tobacco industry has had a long history of aggressive marketing of menthol cigarettes to Black smokers. Today, 85% of Black smokers use menthol cigarettes compared to 29% of all white smokers.

While consumers know that tobacco use is the number one cause of cancer and a preventable death in the U.S, it is a very addictive product and the industry knows that and capitalizes on it. The tobacco industry continues to prey on children with the lure of flavored tobacco products to ensure that young people become addicted. Flavored cigars are especially popular with Black and Latino teenagers.

The FDA’s proposed rule to ban flavored cigars and menthol cigarettes is not just important for preventing our young people from using tobacco; it will help to address a wide range of health disparities within the Black community.

The public will have the opportunity to comment on the proposed rule from now until July 5, 2022. We urge consumers to share their views with the FDA during this open comment period. Smokers interested in quitting should also visit smokefree.gov or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to learn about cessation services available in their state.

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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: Musk must protect privacy of Twitter’s users, not allow platform to become a “cesspool”

May 3, 2022

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

Washington, D.C. – The National Consumers League (“NCL”), America’s oldest consumer advocacy organization, today urged Elon Musk to protect user privacy while continuing to regulate dangerous and misleading content when he acquires Twitter.

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

“Regardless of who owns the company, Twitter has a responsibility to police its platform for dangerous misinformation and disinformation, particularly as it relates to public health issues like the COVID-19 pandemic. Twitter, like other social media companies, has content moderation policies in place but routinely struggles to stop aggressive and pervasive misinformation and disinformation campaigns on the platform. This has wide-ranging and negative consequences for public health and the health of our democracy.

Further weakening or failing to enforce Twitter’s content moderation policies will not promote free speech. Doing so would simply make it easier for the most noxious voices on the Internet – racists, anti-Semites, anti-vaxxers, and many others – to drown out legitimate and important dialogue. Instead of allowing an unfettered free-for-all, Mr. Musk should use the opportunity of acquiring Twitter to increase privacy protections, such as by implementing end-to-end encryption for all direct messages. He should also maintain Twitter’s ban on the most egregious violators of the platform’s content moderation policies; particularly those who have used the platform to promote hate, public health misinformation, and attacks on democracy. The Internet’s town square must not become a cesspool, regardless of how much money the world’s richest man has at his disposal.”

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About the National Consumers League (NCL) 

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

 

National Consumers League calls for equity in crash testing at DOT

April 25, 2022

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

Washington, D.C. – The National Consumers League (“NCL”), America’s oldest consumer advocacy organization, today joined a bipartisan coalition of voices calling on Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to update automotive crash testing standards to require the use of advanced female crash test dummies.

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

“Consumers count on the 5-Star Safety Ratings System to provide essential information about vehicle safety and crashworthiness. Sadly, even in 2022, these safety ratings are more protective of men than women. The mobile billboard on display outside the Department of Transportation this week provides a stark reminder that crash tests based on a 1970s stereotype that women don’t drive should have been fixed long before 2022. Consumers believe and expect that crashworthiness standards will be as strong for females as for males, with the same quality and quantity of crash testing. Disappointingly, that is not the case. Secretary Buttigieg has the opportunity to reduce the risk to women of injury and death by finally requiring the use of advanced female crash dummies. For the first time in the history of the 5-Star Safety Ratings System, DOT should put women crash dummies in the driver’s seat.”

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About the National Consumers League (NCL) 

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

 

National Consumers League Statement in Support of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson

April 7, 2022

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

Washington, D.C. – The National Consumers League, America’s pioneering consumer advocacy organization, today called on all members of the United States Senate to vote to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the next associate justice of the Supreme Court. The following statement is attributable to Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of the National Consumers League:

“Consumers and workers across America look to the courts to protect their interests against the virtually limitless resources of big corporations. Judge Jackson’s experience as a federal public defender and her rulings in several important cases makes her uniquely qualified to understand the concerns of those who are underrepresented in our legal system. In her years on the bench as a federal district court and appellate court judge, Judge Jackson has proven to be one of the brightest legal minds in the country. Her character and qualifications have earned her bipartisan support in all of her past confirmations. On behalf of America’s consumers, we urge all Senators – regardless of party affiliation – to support this uniquely qualified jurist to be the next associate justice of the Supreme Court.”

Earlier this month, Greenberg and NCL Board Chair Joan Bray wrote to the Senate Judiciary Committee urging swift confirmation of Judge Jackson. That letter is available 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.

 

CMS Proposed Rule Ignores Data & Bipartisan Support for the Value of Copay Assistance Programs

By NCL Director of Health Policy Jeanette Contreras

Americans love getting a discount. As consumers, we like to shop to save without compromising the quality of the products we buy. But in healthcare, the stakes are higher at the checkout counter. Patients not only want a discount, they depend on it to afford necessary, sometimes lifesaving, medication to treat their health condition.

Despite what we know about the value and impact of copay assistance programs, a new policy from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) could put a barrier between these critical programs and the patients who need them most.

Manufacturer copay assistance programs include discounts, coupon cards, and vouchers which many of our friends, family members, and neighbors use to afford their prescriptions. Studies have shown that without these financial support systems, many patients couldn’t afford their medicines.

The CMS proposal, which has yet to be finalized, would require manufacturers to guarantee that this assistance goes directly to patients—and if manufacturers do not, they would be required to include the value of the copay assistance in Medicaid Best Price and Average Manufacturer Price (AMP) calculations. That would be fine but there’s a  problem.

CMS has a separate policy that was already finalized earlier this year: the Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters (NBPP) Rule for 2021. In part, the NBPP allows health insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to use policies that stop copay assistance from counting towards a patient’s out-of-pocket burden—sometimes called copay accumulator adjustment programs.

NCL criticized HHS for permitting health plans to use these so-called copay accumulator adjustment programs.

“Removing this cost-sharing assistance will force those patients to pay thousands of dollars more in unexpected costs at the pharmacy. These new costs could push some to forego those medications, leading to worsened health outcomes. This could compromise medication adherence and will lead to increased health care costs over time.” – NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg

Separate studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and IQVIA show that out-of-pocket costs can contribute substantially to reduced adherence or to patients not taking their medication altogether. This is counterproductive because if patients do not take their meds as directed, it means higher costs in other parts of the healthcare system stemming from increased hospitalizations, ER visits, and long-term health issues.

If the data doesn’t convince CMS, voters should. Weeks before the presidential election, we can clearly see widespread support for the value of copay assistance regardless of political affiliation. According to a new National Hemophilia Foundation national survey, more than 80 percent of registered voters believe the government should require copay assistance to be applied to patients’ out-of-pocket costs. Even lawmakers agree that CMS should stop this policy before it launches. A bipartisan group of 36 members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to CMS urging the agency to not finalize the “contentious line extension section or the Medicaid best price change as currently defined in the notice of proposed rulemaking.”

Clearly, copay assistance is critical to Americans. We hope CMS reevaluates the potentially harmful consequences of this new rule on patients and pulls back this counterproductive proposal.