NCL welcomes the 340B ACCESS Act

May 30, 2024

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

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Consumers League welcomes the introduction of the 340B Affording Care for Communities and Ensuring a Strong Safety-Net Act (340B ACCESS Act), which makes needed reforms to protect the 340B program from misuse while lowering drug costs for low-income patients. We are particularly supportive of the proposed ban on aggressive debt collection practices as a condition for hospitals participating in the program. Such practices are unacceptable and out of sync with the mission of a safety-net provider.

Just this week the Wall Street Journal featured an article highlighting the aggressive debt collection practices of a rural Kansas hospital that is suing low-income patients over unpaid medical bills. This legislation ensures that hospitals cannot exploit their 340B status to deny patients who need access to charity care and then sue them for medical debt.

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)

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

NCL statement on DOJ suit against Live Nation Entertainment

May 23, 2024

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

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Consumers League (NCL) today hailed the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) reported decision to file an antitrust suit against Live Nation Entertainment, the parent company of Ticketmaster.  

The following statement is attributable to John Breyault, National Consumers League Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications & Fraud: 

“In 2010, the Department of Justice decided that allowing Ticketmaster to swallow up its largest competitor could be a net positive for live event fans. The last fourteen years have proven beyond any reasonable doubt that the DOJ’s bet was dead wrong. Today’s action begins the long-overdue process of correcting that error and upholding the law. We will be closely monitoring this case to ensure that the result this time is a fairer and more competitive industry for fans and all the stakeholders in the success of live events.” 

Since 2010, NCL has pursued policies that promote stronger consumer protection policies that benefit live event fans at the local, state, and federal levels. In 2016, NCL was one of the leading advocates for the BOTS Act, federal legislation that outlawed the use of ticket buying “bot” software. Since 2019, the average cost of a concert ticket to the top tours in North America increased from $87 to $104, due in large part to added fees, dynamic pricing, and other factors. NCL’s advocacy has contributed to landmark fan protection legislation in eight states. We continue to speak out in support of pro-consumer ticketing bills like the federal TICKET Act (H.R. 3950), which recently cleared the U.S. House of Representatives on a bipartisan 388-24 vote. 

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)

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

NCL applauds Supreme Court for siding with consumer protection in upholding CFPB’s constitutionality

May 16, 2024

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

Washington, DC – The National Consumers League (NCL) is pleased to celebrate the victory for consumers in today’s Supreme Court decision. In upholding the constitutionality of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) funding structure, the Court has rejected extremist legal theories and allowed the agency to continue its important work to maintain a fair financial marketplace and promote economic and racial justice.

“The Supreme Court delivered a blow to the payday lending industry who challenged the CFPB’s funding for their own commercial gain. This is good news for consumers across the country,” said Sally Greenberg, NCL’s CEO. “The Court’s ruling clears a cloud over agency’s work and makes clear that financial regulators will not be gutted on behalf of special interests.”

The Bureau’s funding structure was key to its independence from short-term political agendas, similar to the Federal Reserve Board and other key regulators. Without the CFPB, consumers would be vulnerable to a slew of junk fees, predatory collection practices, and unfair application processes for some of their biggest financial decisions.

Further reading:

  • NCL statement on Fifth Circuit decision to invalidate CFPB’s independence
  • NCL applauds the CFPB’s effort to prohibit junk fees in financial services
  • NCL supports CFPB’s proposal to remove medical debt from credit reports
  • NCL applauds decisive action by CFPB against fraudulent payments processor
  • NCL supports confirmation of Rohit Chopra as CFPB director
  • Leading consumer groups call on FTC and CFPB to update study on accuracy of consumer data

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)

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

NCL applauds Congress’s passage of aviation consumer protection improvements

May 16, 2024

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

Washington, DC – Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through 2028, sending it to the president. The legislation includes a number of wins for the millions of consumers who travel by air every year: airline vouchers cannot expire in less than five years, caregivers can sit with their minor children without paying an extra fee, and passengers will automatically receive a refund if their flight is cancelled.

The measure also strengthens the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) ability to hold air carriers accountable when they break the law by tripling the maximum civil penalty the Department may impose and creating an assistant secretary position for aviation consumer protection.

“The National Consumers League is grateful to the negotiators of this bill for working to improve the flying experience,” said NCL Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud John Breyault. “Without support from Senator Cantwell, Senator Cruz, Representative Graves, Representative Larsen, and their diligent staff, these important new consumer protections would not have made it to President Biden’s desk.

“We look forward to the president signing the bill into law and a robust enforcement regime from DOT. Particularly, we expect the FAA to act on its mandate from Congress to establish minimum seat sizes on airplanes—a directive Congress has given the agency twice now.”

Unfortunately, Congress missed a significant opportunity to enact structural change in how airlines are regulated. The airline industry still enjoys extraordinary privileges and remains protected from Federal Trade Commission and state government oversight. A tax break for add-on fees remains in place, encouraging air carriers to generate revenue from added charges instead of the base fare. And a provision that would have established bare-bones safeguards around the devaluation of frequent flyer rewards was stripped from the bill.

While there is still work to be done, the flying public undoubtedly secured important wins in this reauthorization. NCL is appreciative of the allies to consumers who championed our priorities on the Hill and we will continue to advocate for passengers as the legislation is implemented in the coming years.

Further reading:

  • Consumer advocates support federal review of air industry’s data collection practices
  • Full list of consumer and public interest advocates’ priorities for the FAA reauthorization
  • Consumer groups call for a moratorium on smaller airplane seats pending FAA safety review

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)

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

NCL statement on Senate Reintroduction of Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act

May 15, 2024

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

Washington, DC – Last week, Senate Democrats reintroduced legislation to revamp federal cannabis policy. The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act aims to legalize cannabis at the federal level, create a new regulatory framework for cannabis, expand research into cannabis’ potential and risks, and more.  The National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s oldest consumer advocacy organization, has been actively monitoring the growing threats to consumer safety as the market for untested, unapproved cannabis products has exploded. NCL Chief Executive Officer, Sally Greenberg, released the following statement:

“We are grateful to Senators Schumer, Wyden, and Booker for their ongoing leadership in this space and for acknowledging the critical role of FDA in helping to protect public health. As cannabis products have grown in popularity – and most recently, high THC products have perpetuated the market – it is increasingly important that, if cannabis is legalized, our federal policies and regulations are science-based and prioritize public health. We know that cannabis manufacturers often make misleading or even false claims about their products ability to mitigate or even cure various health issues and consequently our leaders must help consumers better navigate this marketplace across the U.S. FDA is best positioned to achieve that outcome. A new report reiterates the need to ensure that FDA has sufficient regulatory tools and resources to mitigate public health risks and that more research be done to better understand the benefits, risks, drug interactions, etc. of cannabis products.”

Learn more about the cannabis consumer market and the path to safe cannabis at cannabiswatch.org.

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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 AI liability rule, recommends extending its reach

May 2, 2024

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

Washington, DC – This week, NCL and six other consumer advocacy and public interest organizations submitted comments in support of a Federal Trade Commission proposal that would establish legal liability for AI developers who know (or have reason to know) that their AI is facilitating fraud.

The FTC’s proposed rule would enable the agency to crack down on scams that use deepfakes and voice cloning. It would also help to fill a glaring gap in its ability to hold impersonation frauds accountable, like romance and grandparent scams. This hole in the Commission’s capacity to return funds to victims of fraud is a direct result of the Supreme Court’s decision in the 2021 AMG Capital Management v. FTC case.

“While some AI developers implement safeguards to prevent the misuse of their products, many do not,” said NCL Public Policy Manager Eden Iscil. “The FTC’s initiative in this space should put companies on notice that they cannot put out unregulated AI tools and allow criminals to supercharge their frauds with them.”

Recent trends have shown the urgent need for the FTC to have strong enforcement options to combat impersonation fraud. NCL’s Top Ten Scams report for 2023 found significant consumer losses attributed romance and family-and-friend imposter fraud, with victim complaints showing median losses at $8,000 and $1,040, respectively. Generative AI, including text generation, voice cloning, and visual deepfakes, can enable these scams to be significantly more effective. The Federal Bureau of Investigation noted a 322% increase in sextortion reports between 2022 and 2023, attributing much of the increase to the proliferation of AI tools.

The Center for American Progress, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Electronic Privacy Information Center, the National Association of Consumer Advocates, the National Consumer Law Center, and NCL urged the Commission to clarify that the liability for AI developers in facilitating fraud should also apply to companies that provide scammers access to AI tools, even if the companies did not develop the AI themselves. The full comments can be found here.

Additional reading:

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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 responds to Senators Crapo, Wyden announcement on needed PBM reforms

March 14, 2024

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

Washington, DC – The National Consumers League (NCL) today released a statement following Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) recent press conference announcing their push to include bipartisan PBM reforms in the broader funding package.

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

“For far too long now, PBMs have been taking advantage of our drug pricing system, finding ways to increase their profits without delivering value to consumers. Now, after years of investigations, pharmacy closures and high out-of-pocket costs, our leaders are doing something about it. By disconnecting Medicare prescription drug costs from PBM profits, this legislation will address one of the many ways PBMs use the system to their financial advantage. Congress has a huge opportunity to help seniors better afford and access the medications they need. We urge Congress to get this done without delay.”

Learn more about NCL’s work to address the PBM problem 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 applauds Biden Administration actions to minimize unfair charges, protect producers from retaliation

March 5, 2024

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

Washington, DC – Today, the White House Competition Council announced new actions to lower costs for consumers and promote market health. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) finalized a rule to save consumers $10 billion a year by capping credit card late fees to an average of $8. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is initiating a ban on bulk billing, a practice where landlords or service providers charge all tenants in a building for a particular service—even for residents who do not choose that service. Lastly, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) is implementing protections for farmers and ranchers from retaliatory practices used by the industry’s dominant firms.

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

“Under President Biden’s leadership, consumer protection agencies are doing critical work to guard the marketplace against industry misconduct. As more industry sectors have become increasingly consolidated, today’s actions are necessary to ensure that consumers aren’t ripped off and to protect producers from illegal retaliation and discrimination. When businesses concentrate market power and employ unfair practices to maintain that dominance, new legal safeguards and structural reform become necessary to protect the public from further harm. Today’s announcements are an important piece of this effort to maintain healthy marketplaces that benefit consumers and workers.”

The National Consumers League has worked to protect both consumers and workers from consolidated corporate power since 1899. From advocating against banking fees that disproportionately affect marginalized communities to fighting for transparency in telecom billing, NCL continues to provide a voice for the public interest.

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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 expresses support for ending the subminimum wage for tipped workers in the state of Connecticut

March 4, 2024

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

Washington, DC – NCL CEO Sally Greenberg recently testified to the members of the Committee on Labor and Public Employees of the Connecticut General Assembly urging the inclusion of ending the subminimum wage for tipped workers in SB 221. In Connecticut, the subminimum wage for tipped workers is currently at $6.38 per hour.

The restaurant industry in Connecticut “needs to stop basing its business strategy on a 150-year-old system that is the direct legacy of slavery and join the modern working world,” says Greenberg. “It is time to raise the wage and ensure Connecticut’s restaurant industry does not get left behind.”

Greenberg cited One Fair Wage’s recent report claiming the current restaurant industry isn’t facing a worker shortage but rather a wage shortage. One Fair Wage recently published a fact sheet showing a comparative analysis of small business restaurants in Connecticut vs in California.

Greenberg’s full testimony can be found here.

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About the National Consumers League (NCL)

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

NCL applauds FTC action to stop imminent grocery monopoly 

February 26, 2024

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

Washington, DC – Today, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and bipartisan state attorneys general sued to block the proposed merger between Kroger and Albertsons. The $24.6 billion deal—the largest supermarket merger in U.S. history—would create a near monopoly by consolidating 5,000 stores and 4,000 pharmacies under one corporation. Without FTC action, consumers would see inflated prices and workers would be stuck with anticompetitive compensation.

“Decades of ignoring federal law have allowed industry consolidation to grow unchecked, leaving everyone worse off except for a handful of executives at the top,” said NCL CEO Sally Greenberg. “The FTC is rightfully asserting its authority and putting the interest of consumers and workers first. Monopolists should know that they can no longer take advantage of the American public without facing legal challenges.”

The proposed deal would eliminate competition between Kroger (including Fred Meyer, Fry’s, and Harris Teer) and Albertsons (among its subsidiaries are Haggen, Safeway, and Vons). Last year, a coalition including NCL and 250 national, state, and local organizations urged the FTC to prevent this merger from taking place. Joining the FTC’s lawsuit are bipartisan attorneys general representing Arizona, California, D.C., Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wyoming.

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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.