Postings

Federal deregulation attempts increase barriers to affordable housing
All over the country, housing unaffordability has become a crisis. The number of households spending more than half of their income on housing payments has skyrocketed in the past decade. Almost 50% of renters are struggling with unaffordable rents, and the homeless population is rapidly growing in high cost areas. In response to this national crisis, the Department of Housing and Urban Development published a request for information to examine how regulations could be creating barriers to affordable housing. In response, advocates point out that it's not regulatory efforts, but moves to deregulate the housing and financial markets that are eroding and withdrawing crucial commonsense oversights, thereby increasing barriers to affordable housing.

Advocates urge CFPB to create strong protections for PACE borrowers
Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs offer loans for energy efficient home improvements, such as solar panels, HVAC systems, and energy efficient windows, along with more questionable items such as “cool coat paint.” PACE loans, offered through home improvement contractors, often in door-to-door sales, and secured by a property tax lien, are collected through a property tax assessment that takes priority over any existing mortgage. PACE programs must be authorized by state and local governments, but are privately run with little or no government oversight. Advocates encouraged the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to use its authority to issue a rule that applies all of the Truth in Lending Act to the industry and to continue to research the PACE market in order to develop strong protections that curb widespread program abuse.

Pharmacy benefit managers are driving up drug costs for patients
States, local governments, organizations, and businesses use pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to negotiate lower drug prices for the individuals on their health insurance plans. Three organizations control 85 percent of this market. While PBMs play a crucial role in the drug supply chain, the lack of transparency regarding their practices has long contributed to the rising cost of prescription drugs. The PBM Transparency and Prescription Drug Costs Act (H.R. 5304) will increase transparency, hold pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) accountable, and help lower prescription drug prices. This bipartisan bill will mandate quarterly reports on the costs, fees, and rebate information associated with PBM contracts. This reform ensures employers know the true costs of the services they are paying for and passes on savings to consumers.

The sale of .org a big concern for non-profit organizations
A private equity firm will soon run the internet’s top domain name extension for non-profits after purchasing the non-profit organization that runs it. Millions of non-profits around the world rely on .org domain. Yet, the Internet Society, the American nonprofit organization founded in 1992 to provide leadership in internet-related standards, decided to sell it, causing concern that fees to renew domain names will drastically increase in order for the firm to recoup its billion-dollar investment. Proponents of the deal reasoned that competition will keep renewal prices in check, but non-profit associations with established web addresses are wary to risk changing their web address and losing their online identity—in doing so, organizations may not be found by clients and donors under a new web address.

Advocates applaud the Fed’s faster payments system, but urge fraud protection
Consumer and privacy advocates applauded the announcement by the Federal Reserve Board (the Fed) that it will develop a real-time payment system, while urging the Fed to ensure protection against scammers and criminals who use faster payment systems to receive and move money.

Stop banks from helping predatory payday lenders evade state regulations
More than five dozen public interest groups expressed deep concern about “rent-a-bank schemes” in letters to federal banking agencies, explaining that several nonbank consumer payday lenders have set their sights on using partnerships with banks to evade newly enacted interest rate restrictions in California.

A new bill aimed at helping students lacks robust borrower protections
Consumer Action joined over 40 organizations in a letter to Senator Lamar Alexander to express concerns regarding his recently introduced bill, the Student Aid Improvement Act. Unfortunately, the bill fails to include any provisions that hold low-quality and sometimes predatory colleges accountable, and better protect students and taxpayers. Any reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) must include robust consumer protections.

Further cuts to Pell will put college out of reach for many low-income families
Consumer Action joined a letter to Senate appropriators urging them to oppose the overall Labor-HHS-Education spending allocation and the accompanying proposed $1.3 billion rescission from the Pell grant reserve fund. Instead, advocates urged the Senate to fully retain all current Pell funds where they belong - in the Pell Grant program.

New proposed rule empowers debt collects and their attorneys
In an effort to update the rule that governs debt collectors, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a proposed rule that would make debt collector harassment worse for consumers.

Healthcare mergers result in less choice and higher prescription drug prices for consumers
As the Federal Trade Commission considers signing off on the $63 billion deal between AbbVie and Allergen, advocates warn that the merger will reduce competition in a number of markets where AbbVie and Allergan directly overlap with each other. The deal will also exacerbate competitive problems that already exist in the pharmaceutical drug industry relating to rebate walls and patent abuses.

Search

Quick Menu

Facebook FTwitter T
 

Consumer Help Desk

Advocacy