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

Feds should halt bank mergers until guidelines are strengthened
The federal authorities should halt all bank merger approvals until they strengthen the outdated guidelines that govern whether financial institutions can combine, according to a letter delivered by 30 public interest organizations. Advocates outlined the harmful effects—including more evictions, increasing rates of debts in collection, and fewer loans supporting economic development—that bank consolidation has had on consumers and small businesses, especially in communities of color.

As the pandemic continues, the Build Back Better Act aims to provide critical assistance to American families
Consumer Action joined over 200 national, state and community organizations in thanking the House of Representatives for the momentous gains made in the Build Back Better Act, reinforcing the need to keep the package intact as it makes its way through the Senate, and urging swift passage onto signature by President Biden. By passing the historic Build Back Better bill, Congress is tackling some of the most important problems families face, by accomplishing things such as cutting taxes for working and middle class families, supporting child and elder care, making college more affordable, providing job training, and making the largest investment in battling climate change in our nation’s history.

Americans need drug pricing reform now
Consumer Action joined more than 60 national, state and local groups in urging Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to resist demands from some caucus members seeking to weaken the Medicare drug price negotiation policies in the Build Back Better Act. The bill aims to lower drug prices for millions of Americans by allowing Medicare to negotiate certain drug prices, penalizing drug companies that increase their prices faster than inflation, and adding an out-of-pocket cap to Medicare Part D. Advocates warn that weakening this popular policy would allow Big Pharma to continue to gouge Americans and profit from exorbitantly high drug prices.

Congress to protect all Medicare beneficiaries in reconciliation bill
Consumer Action joined 45 leading consumer, disability, minority health and provider organizations in thanking Congress for taking steps to protect Medicare Advantage beneficiaries when adding new benefits to fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare and encouraging lawmakers to maintain this language in the final bill. The letter comes as Congress considers adding vision, hearing and dental benefits to FFS Medicare as part of its emerging reconciliation package.

A call for President Biden to end Big Pharma monopolies
Coalition members wrote to U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra demanding that the White House take on Big Pharma in an effort to curb drugmakers’ monopoly power in the soon-to-be-released HHS drug pricing competition plan. Advocates called on President Biden to end the era of abusive drug pricing and treatment rationing by challenging patents and expanding generic-drug competition. As Americans face a new surge in the ongoing pandemic, there is no better time than now to break up Big Pharma monopolies.

It’s time to dig deeper into sources of unfairness in auto insurance market
Consumer groups wrote to the Department of Treasury’s Federal Insurance Office (FIO) asking that the FIO prioritize an immediate update of its auto insurance affordability study using improved methods and conduct additional research on uninsured drivers, socioeconomic factors in auto insurance pricing, and how these factors have a disparate impact on people of color. As many families rely on automobiles to take them to school and work, it’s particularly important that auto insurance is available, affordable and priced fairly in the marketplace.

Grant FHA-backed borrowers the full forbearance relief they are legally entitled to
In a letter to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), coalition advocates urged HUD to give Federal Housing Administration-backed borrowers who start forbearance plans after July 1, 2021, access to a full 12 months of forbearance, in line with policies from the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the Department of Agriculture (USDA). In doing so, HUD would rightfully recognize the continued economic turmoil from the global pandemic. HUD’s current decision unnecessarily limits forbearance for borrowers accessing plans after June 30, 2021, to only six months of relief instead of the standard 12 months pursuant to the CARES Act.

More can be done to protect consumers and patients during pharmaceutical mergers
The pharmaceutical industry has become increasingly concentrated in recent years, often resulting in higher prices and reduced choice for consumers. Increasing evidence shows that consumers are paying higher prices for prescription drugs and losing out on access and choice because of less innovation by drug companies. Advocates argue that the Federal Trade Commission’s current approach to monitoring pharmaceutical mergers, and its historically pro-merger policy, fails to fully protect American consumers and patients.

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.

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