Consumer Protection Updates

News Release | TexPIRG | COVID-19

Texas Department of Insurance’s Misinformation and Inaction Stall Efforts to Ensure Proper COVID Auto Insurance Refunds for Texans

 

In another setback to ensuring that Texans get appropriate auto insurance refunds due to fewer claims and less driving, the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) released misleading information to public officials. The information asserts an unsupported claim that drivers have seen $1.4 billion in insurance overcharges returned back into their wallets, one that is contradicted by market data.
Texas Appleseed, the Center for Economic Justice, Texas Watch, the Texas Public Interest Research Group (TexPIRG), and the Consumer Federation of America sent a letter to TDI and Texas legislators highlighting erroneous and misleading information that TDI has used to justify their failure to provide premium relief to consumers.

News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | COVID-19

White House task force urges action to curb COVID spread in Texas

As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) rages across Texas, federal officials urged Texas lawmakers Tuesday to take immediate action to curb the spread of the virus, according to a recent report

Hospitalizations in Texas have jumped 24 percent in the last two weeks. Those numbers will likely rise and overtax the state’s hospitals after too many Texans and other Americans ignored the warnings of health experts and traveled and gathered for Thanksgiving. 

Bay Scoggin, TexPIRG Director, issued the following statement in response:

“COVID-19 is raging out of control in Texas. We have already lost far too many lives to the virus. Given how widespread the virus is now, the best way to break the chains of transmission and get cases down quickly is by instituting a temporary stay-at-home order across the state, painful as that may sound."

News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

35th annual Trouble in Toyland report uncovers mislabeled and dangerous toys

TexPIRG Education Fund’s Trouble in Toyland report has helped identify dangerous toys for 35 years. But 2020 is unique, and as Americans have worked, learned and played from home to protect themselves from COVID-19, children could be more susceptible to certain toy-related hazards. 

“This has been an incredibly difficult year, and parents and caregivers are overwhelmed. They might do a quick search online for a toy to entertain their kids and trust that manufacturers and online vendors are guaranteeing their safety. This isn’t always the case, so parents need to be on guard,” said Bay Scoggin, TexPIRG Education Fund’s Director.

News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | COVID-19

Report: More than 10% of Texas nursing homes have no N95 masks

Seven months into this pandemic, PPE shortages have become much worse, according to “Nursing home safety during COVID: PPE shortages,” a report by the TexPIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group. Our analysis of data submitted to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services by the nation’s 15,000 nursing homes shows:

  • In Texas, 12.7% of nursing homes had a critical shortage of N95 masks, of which 10.9% had none at all, higher than the national average

Report | COVID-19

NURSING HOME SAFETY DURING COVID: PPE SHORTAGES

Thousands of nursing homes nationwide are dealing with horrific shortages of masks, gowns and other items they need to protect residents, workers and the broader community from COVID-19. And seven months into this pandemic, the shortages have actually become much worse.

At any given time, about 1.3 million people with long-term medical issues or short-term rehabilitation needs are residing in the nation’s 15,000 nursing homes. And too many of them are at risk, according to an analysis of government data by the TexPIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group.

News Release | TexPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

New report: COVID-19 pandemic worsens existing consumer problems with car buying

Consumer complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regarding vehicle loans and leases have increased sharply during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report by the TexPIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group. The analysis suggests that consumers in Texas and across the United States are facing abusive and deceptive practices from the automobile lending industry.  

“Personal car ownership was once a symbol of freedom in the United States. Now, for too many Americans, owning a vehicle isn’t a choice, but an expensive necessity,” said Bay Scoggin, Director of TexPIRG Education Fund. “That’s why making it easier to get around without a car, including by building more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly infrastructure and improving the cost and availability of public transit, is an important step to help Americans reduce their exposure to auto debt.”

News Release | TexPIRG | COVID-19

TexPIRG statement on Gov. Abbott’s decision to reopen bars

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Wednesday that he will allow bars to operate at 50 percent capacity starting October 14 although leading health professionals, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have warned that bars are high-risk venues for spreading the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Texas continues to have virus levels nearly 15 times higher than the rate of new daily cases that health professionals would consider safe for reopening. And according to the Covid Exit Strategy Map, the state also is trending poorly in key metrics for measuring the spread of the virus.

In response, TexPIRG Director Bay Scoggin released the following statement:

“Many Texans, myself included, are looking forward to a Shiner Bock at a local bar whenever the pandemic ebbs. But we’re not close to that yet. The governor has not shown the leadership or commitment to our health for that to happen. This announcement is not good for Texans."

News Release | TexPIRG | COVID-19

TexPIRG statement on Gov. Abbott’s reopening announcement

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday that he is loosening coronavirus restrictions on restaurants and businesses in many parts of the state. Businesses will be allowed to operate at 75 percent capacity. 

This is happening even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study last week that found that adults who tested positive for COVID-19 were about twice as likely to have eaten at a restaurant in the two weeks prior to getting sick. 

In response, TexPIRG Director Bay Scoggin released the following statement:

“Some of the top economists in Texas, and across the country, have told Governor Abbott in no uncertain terms that the economy will not recover until he gets the virus under control. Yet, the governor is loosening restrictions while COVID-19 cases are still well above the levels that health professionals deem safe for reopening. 

News Release | TexPIRG | COVID-19

TexPIRG statement on Gov. Abbott’s reopening announcement

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday that he is loosening coronavirus restrictions on restaurants and businesses in many parts of the state. Businesses will be allowed to operate at 75 percent capacity. 

This is happening even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study last week that found that adults who tested positive for COVID-19 were about twice as likely to have eaten at a restaurant in the two weeks prior to getting sick. 

In response, TexPIRG Director Bay Scoggin released the following statement:

“Some of the top economists in Texas, and across the country, have told Governor Abbott in no uncertain terms that the economy will not recover until he gets the virus under control. Yet, the governor is loosening restrictions while COVID-19 cases are still well above the levels that health professionals deem safe for reopening. 

News Release | TexPIRG | COVID-19

Top economists call on Governor Abbott to Start Over and Do It Right to contain COVID-19

“Our nation’s economy will remain in crisis as long as the COVID-19 virus spreads unchecked,” according to an open letter economists from leading universities signed in response to the botched pandemic response across the United States. The letter, circulated by U.S. PIRG, calls on public officials to “Start Over and Do It Right” to contain COVID-19 this time. TexPIRG delivered the letter to Governor Abbott today, emphasizing that the state cannot reopen safely until the virus is under control. 

“As experts on economic theory and practice, we have come together to insist that you reconsider your understanding of the economic reality we face. By opening the economy and thus encouraging people to meet up at bars, gyms, restaurants, stores and other gatherings, we are prolonging the harm. Those meetings drive up disease, and therefore deaths,” notes the letter.

The letter comes when Governor Abbott recently hinted at easing coronavirus restrictions. “We are still nowhere near where we need to be to reopen,” said Bay Scoggin, TexPIRG Director. “We jumped the gun last time, can’t we learn from our mistakes?”

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