Postings

Protect the Pell Grant during and after the COVID-19 crisis
As lawmakers work on providing economic relief to American families amid the COVID-19 crisis and move forward with the FY21 appropriations process, it is critical that they invest in and protect the Pell Grant program - the nation's cornerstone investment in higher education - to ensure students have the funds to pursue postsecondary education during this emergency and in its aftermath.

Protect consumers from price gouging during a state of emergency
In a letter to the California state legislature, advocates urged support of Senate Bill 1196, which aims to combat price gouging in the state of California during a declared state of emergency. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, California has seen countless examples of unscrupulous individuals using the crisis as an opportunity to turn a profit on essential goods and services. SB 1196 will tighten California law to assist law enforcement officials in prosecuting instances of price gouging that are committed by new sellers during an emergency.

White House must prioritize privacy and equity in COVID-19 response
In a letter to Vice President Michael R. Pence, who leads the Coronavirus Task Force, coalition advocates called on the government to set guidelines to protect individuals’ privacy, ensure equity in the treatment of individuals and communities and communicate clearly about public health objectives in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. Dept. of Education urged to protect students as higher education programs move online
COVID-19 has made it more important than ever to maintain strong oversight of distance education programs and their use of taxpayer dollars. Significantly changing or weakening government regulations presents a serious risk to students. In a letter to the U.S. Department of Education, coalition advocates urged the Department to maintain basic safeguards in distance education and innovation regulations, which is particularly critical given the number of schools that have recently moved to online offerings as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Now is not the time to rush autonomous vehicle legislation through Congress
During this time of national emergency, Congress should be focusing on ensuring the health and financial well-being of Americans, not rushing forward with inadequate driverless vehicle legislation that puts the interests of the auto industry and tech companies ahead of people’s safety. Yet, House Republicans have recently called for the revival of an autonomous vehicle bill (arguing that self-driving vehicles can be part of the Covid-19 response). In a letter to Congress, coalition advocates urged legislative leaders to reject attempts to attach driverless car legislation to a must-pass relief bills, including any packages that address the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Any continued efforts to pass driverless vehicle legislation at this critical juncture would be a mistake.

All insurers must make coronavirus tests and treatment free to patients
Americans have been urged to seek medical help if they are showing symptoms of COVID-19, but out-of-pocket costs could put insured patients into serious medical debt, or worse, deter them from seeking treatment at all — causing undue suffering and death, and exacerbating the pandemic. A coalition of more than 80 advocacy groups came together to urge all health insurance corporations to waive all patient fees for care associated with COVID-19, including copays and deductibles.

Stop the debt trap by implementing stronger regulations on rent-to-own stores
With limited or no access to credit and savings, low-income consumers often turn to rent-to-own (RTO) stores for big-ticket items like appliances. RTO stores notoriously charge customers two-to-three times more than traditional stores for the same items, leading to more purchase defaults, capturing the consumer in a debt trap. Coalition members joined together in urging the Federal Trade Commission to do more to protect low-income communities from the predatory practices utilized by the $8.2 billion a year RTO industry.

HUD must do more to protect older reverse mortgage borrowers
Advocates sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) seeking stronger protections for reverse mortgage borrowers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency announced a 60-day halt on foreclosures of all FHA-insured mortgages, but this timeframe falls short in light of projections of the long-term impact of this crisis.

It’s time to regulate airline distribution and display practices
On the three-year anniversary of the suspension of the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) request for information (RFI) on "Exploring Industry Practices on Distribution and Display of Airline Fare, Schedule and Availability Information," coalition advocate groups sent a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao calling for the RFI's reinstatement. Advocates are concerned that the extended pause is harming consumers by limiting their ability to see all airline, flight, fare and fee options and shop in a transparent, convenient and efficient way. It’s time for the DOT to release a final regulation of the matter and ensure consumers are treated fairly in the air-travel marketplace.

Affordability should be paramount when the COVID-19 vaccine is released to the public
Consumer Action joined nearly 70 organizations in writing to President Trump, asking him to ensure that vaccines or treatments for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), developed and purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars, are reasonably priced and available to everyone. Americans will not accept President Trump allowing Big Pharma corporations to profit off a pandemic that continues to claim thousands of lives.

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