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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

Over 100 groups call on Federal Reserve to Strengthen CRA
More than 100 national and local civil rights, fair lending and consumer rights organizations have urged the Federal Reserve Board to strengthen the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), a key anti-redlining and civil rights law. In detailed comments that addressed issues from access to credit, location of bank branches and investments in underserved communities, the groups laid out a plan for the Biden Administration to leverage CRA to ensure an equitable recovery from the ongoing economic, racial justice and public health crisis.

The pandemic's impact on the digital divide: Low-income Americans need help now
The pandemic didn't create the digital divide, but it has certainly exacerbated it. Consumer Action and National Consumers League wrote to the Federal Communications Commission to applaud its efforts to bring broadband internet connection to low-income households during the COVID-19 pandemic through the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, and its efforts to expand the Lifeline program to reach more low-income households. Today, Lifeline recipients can use a modest $9.25 monthly subsidy to connect to phone and/or internet services, yet only 1-in-4 eligible households enrolls in the program. As Americans continue to work, attend school, and conduct healthcare appointments online during the pandemic, it is critical that everyone has access to broadband internet.

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.

The new California privacy agency should prioritize consumers’ privacy
The recently-passed California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) augments and supplements California’s existing privacy law, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). It also creates a new supervisory authority for data protection and privacy in California — the California Privacy Protection Agency. Privacy advocates wrote to Governor Gavin Newsom urging him to select members to the new agency who have demonstrated experience working on behalf of consumers and a commitment to civil rights and ending discriminatory business practices.

Prioritizing health equity to overcome the coronavirus pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed stunning gaps in the U.S. public health and health care systems and highlighted the negative effects of hundreds of years of structural inequities and systemic racism on our communities. The U.S. COVID-19 response has been marked by politicization of public health, skepticism of science, and a lack of a national plan. For people with disabilities, low-income families, communities of color, and those living in congregate settings, COVID-19 has exacerbated inequities with fatal consequences. Advocates joined together in making recommendations to the Biden administration: from community mitigation to testing and tracing to safe quarantine, working and sharing lessons with nations around the world. An equitable and fair COVID-19 response ensures the safety and healthcare needs of our most vulnerable communities.

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.

New banking rule aims to prop up fossil fuel industry
Consumer Action joined in opposing the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's (OCC) deceptively titled Fair Access to Financial Services proposed rule. The rule would pressure and, in some cases, require banks to lend to fossil fuel companies, without regard to strategic or reputational risk. The proposed rule flatly contradicts the OCC’s mission by threatening the safety and soundness of banks seeking to mitigate climate-related risks. It twists the language of racial justice and redlining to justify pressuring banks to lend to the increasingly risky fossil fuel industry. Forcing banks to take on dangerous investments will stress the financial system and prop up a dying industry that continues to damage the environment.

Protect limited-English speakers from harmful debt collection practices
A coalition of consumer, civil and human rights, labor, community and legal services organizations wrote to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to voice concerns with the Bureau’s approach to consumers with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) in the recently finalized Debt Collection Practices (Regulation F) rule. There are many misconceptions about debt collection laws that are heightened by language barriers, leaving LEP consumers vulnerable to harassment and exploitation. Providing enhanced language access is essential to protect LEP consumers and provides the CFPB with the ability to enforce critical consumer rights.

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.

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