Coalition Efforts

Consumer Action is working on these important issues along with other organizations. If you would like to know more about these issues, please see “More Information” at the end of each article.

 

Postings

Protect retirement savers from risky private equity investments
Consumer Action joined allies in a letter to the Department of Labor asking the department to ensure that “defined contribution plan fiduciaries”—those responsible for ensuring that employer-based retirement plans feature safe and appropriate investments—undertake balanced consideration of the benefits and risks before they allow private equity funds to be offered to retirees.

Choice of retirement plan disclosure notice still important for workers and retirees
Consumer Action joined coalition members in urging the Employee Benefits Security Administration and the Department of Labor to address the severe shortcomings in the Department’s recently adopted “Notice-and-Access” rule. Until the changes last May, the default had been to deliver retirement plan disclosures on paper, sent through the mail. Under the new rule, the retirement plan merely sends an email or text message to a consumer letting them know that a disclosure is available on a website. The new rule’s default makes no provision for the sizeable proportion of individuals who still don’t have access to computers or internet service and makes it much harder for ordinary Americans to access the documents they need to plan for retirement.

The FTC and CFPB must do more to prevent mass homelessness during the pandemic
Over 11 million families are at risk of losing housing. Protection from evictions and foreclosures is greatly needed due to the ongoing economic crisis accompanying the COVID-19 pandemic, including the loss of household income in the near and long term. Consumer Action joined advocates in urging the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to work together to prohibit unfair debt collections and ensure financial and regulatory agencies confirm industry standards regarding forbearance availability for homeowners. Without these additional protections, many will lose their homes and be forced to move at a time when COVID-19 levels are still extremely high and vaccination access for many is still months away. As a result, the financial impact of COVID would result in substantially greater risk of spreading illness.

Immediate action needed to help keep families in their homes
As millions of Americans face continued hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic, advocates wrote to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to urge the Bureau to keep individuals and families in their homes. Advocates recommended specific steps the Bureau can take to help borrowers avoid foreclosure, including homeowners without federally-backed mortgages. They asked that the CFPB focus on implementing quick policies during this current crisis, rather than embarking on a larger disaster-related rulemaking, leaving time to analyze best practices and measure how well the policies adopted during this crisis worked to save homes.

Advocates urge the Biden administration to slash drug costs
Advocates wrote to the Biden administration asking the President-elect to immediately implement a series of reforms to slash prescription drug costs once he takes office. Advocates urged the President-elect to authorize more generic competition through patent licensing, launch a demonstration project in Medicare to link payments to vastly lower costs paid broadly and prosecute pharmaceutical companies for anti-competitive behavior. Americans currently spend more on prescription drugs than anyone else in the world. There were 717 drug price increases so far this year, and just seven of them on generics, bumping prices up by 4.5 percent on average. It’s time to improve the lives of patients and families by lowering drug prices and making medicines affordable.

Advocates urge the Biden administration to reject Big Tech appointments to his cabinet
In a letter to President-elect Biden, consumer and privacy advocates urged the President-elect to avoid appointing representatives from tech giants like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google to his cabinet. These companies represent serious threats to privacy, democracy, innovation and to Americans’ economic well-being. Advocates warned that representatives from these companies should not hold positions of power within our government. Instead, advocates urged Biden to assemble a team of advocates that will represent working Americans and not the Big Tech companies that work to exploit them.

Studies show systemic racism in insurance industry
Consumer Action joined a coalition of consumer and community activists in submitting comments to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners' Special Committee on Race and Insurance urging them to focus efforts on creating tools to help states and insurers identify and combat systemic racism in insurance. Studies over many years have shown elements of racism in pricing, placement of agents, redlining and other aspects of insurance. But systemic racism is not found in just a few elements of insurance; it casts its shadow across all aspects of insurance and needs to be confronted in a systematic and holistic manner.

Allies urge CFPB Director not to weaken its enforcement arm
A coalition of more than 80 consumer and civil rights groups urged the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Director Kathy Kraninger to "abandon" her "October Surprise" proposed reorganization. Instead of strengthening the arm of the CFPB that holds predatory financial institutions accountable, the proposal would drastically weaken its authority, independence, and ultimately, effectiveness, leaving consumers vulnerable and defenseless during an already financially stressful time.

Seniors deserve a simplified Medicare enrollment process
Consumer Action joined Better Medicare Alliance (BMA), the leading research and advocacy organization supporting Medicare Advantage, in unveiling a new white paper that contains a set of comprehensive recommendations to reimagine Medicare enrollment and empower beneficiaries to make better sense of their coverage options. The coalition’s five-pronged plan, entitled “Empowering Beneficiaries and Modernizing Medicare Enrollment,” offers bold recommendations for reform, including shifting all Medicare enrollment responsibilities from the Social Security Administration to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Patients deserve access to cheaper prescription drugs
The Food and Drug Administration sought input for improvements to its generic drug approval process, including for complex generic drugs. Advocates stressed the importance of implementing policies that increase competition among drug companies and reduce barriers to cheaper prescription drugs. It’s time Americans have greater access to more affordable drugs and newly approved generic medicines.

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