Advocacy Filings

When government bodies and other organizations consider cases or policy decisions that affect consumers or competition, the FTC may offer insight and expertise to decision makers by filing an advocacy letter. To find a specific filing, use the filters on this page.

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Federal Trade Commission Staff Reply Comment to the New York State Public Service Commission on “Reforming the Energy Vision” Project

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The FTC staff submitted a reply comment in response to certain comments filed with the New York State Public Service Commission (NY PSC) regarding the proposal to authorize the establishment of entities known as Distributed System Platform (DSP) operators, which would be responsible for balancing electricity supply and demand on local, lower-voltage distribution lines. The FTC staff comment recommended the use of a competitive procurement process to select the entities that will serve as DSP operators. This would allow a variety of bidders to show how they could keep administrative costs low, remove incentives to discriminate against independent distributed energy resources, and provide other benefits to electricity customers. The FTC staff comment also encouraged the NY PSC to use a competitive procurement approach to appoint independent market monitors to evaluate the performance of DSP operators, and suggested ways to improve the performance of the electric distribution system.

Federal Trade Commission Comment Before the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Regarding the NHTSA Proposed Rule Entitled “Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards: Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) Communications,” and the Accompanying Report

The FTC filed a comment on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) advance notice of proposed rulemaking related to vehicle-to-vehicle communications. As the lead federal agency charged with protecting consumer privacy, the FTC in its comment expresses support for NHTSA’s deliberative, process-based approached to addressing privacy and security risks, which includes a privacy risk assessment. The comment also commends NHTSA for designing a V2V system to limit the data collected and stored to only that which serves its intended safety purpose.

FTC Staff Comment Before the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners Concerning Proposed 22 TEX ADMIN CODE §§ 108.70, 108.74 That Would Restrict the Ability of Texas Dentists to Enter into Agreements with Non-Dentists for the Provision of Admin Services

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FTC staff, in response to a notice requesting public comments, filed a comment urging the TSBDE to reject two proposed rules that would impose new restrictions on the ability of Texas dentists to enter into contracts with non-dentists, such as dental service organizations, for the provision of nonclinical, administrative services. The comment explained that such restrictions may reduce competition, likely resulting in higher prices and reduced access to dental services, especially for underserved populations.

FTC Staff Comment on Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s Proposed Customer Due Diligence Rule for Financial Institutions

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FTC staff filed a comment on a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking published by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the U.S. Department of Treasury, supporting the proposed Customer Due Diligence Rule. Among other requirements, the proposed rule would require financial institutions to collect information on the individuals who are the beneficial owners of a legal entity when the entity opens an account. The comment notes that the proposed Rule should improve the FTC’s ability to track down those perpetrating fraud against consumers in situations where individuals used legal entities or "shell" companies to disguise their involvement with fraudulent operations.

Federal Trade Commission Comment Before the Federal Communications Commission Regarding the Privacy and Security Practices of Broadband Providers and Their Impact On Broadband Adoption

The FTC filed a comment before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in response to its inquiry into the status of broadband availability and deployment to all Americans, in which the FCC asked for comment on, among other things, the relevance of privacy and/or data security concerns to consumer adoption of broadband. The comment provided information on the FTC’s enforcement, policy, and education work related to consumer privacy and data security, as applied to residential broadband internet services. The comment highlighted FTC efforts to promote consumer privacy and data security through rigorous enforcement of the FTC Act, the FCRA, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), and the obligations of broadband service providers under these laws.

FTC Staff Comment Before the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Regarding the Use of Mobile Financial Services By Consumers and Its Potential For Improving the Financial Lives of Economically Vulnerable Consumers

FTC staff filed a comment before the CFPB in response to its request for information on the use of mobile financial systems by consumers and their potential benefits for the financial lives of underserved consumers. The staff comment highlighted consumer protection issues posed by mobile financial services and the steps taken by the FTC to address them. These issues include: the potential liability for unauthorized charges using prepaid or stored value products; unfair billing practices on mobile carrier bills; the privacy of consumers’ personal and financial data; the security of consumers’ personal and financial data; and the potential use of consumers’ information by data brokers and other third parties.

FTC Staff Comment Before the ERISA Advisory Council of the U.S. Department of Labor Regarding Pharmacy Benefit Manager Compensation and Fee Disclosure

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Staff submitted a comment containing information that may be useful to the Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans, regarding issues relating to PBM compensation and fee disclosure. The comment discussed prior FTC analyses relating to the Council’s general inquiry, and addressed some recent questions directed to FTC staff by the Council.

FTC Staff Comment Before the New Jersey General Assembly Regarding Assembly Bills 2986, 3096, 3041, and 3216, Which Would Create Limited Exceptions to New Jersey’s Prohibition on Direct-to-Consumer Sales by Manufacturers of Automobiles

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FTC staff submitted a comment, in response to a request from New Jersey Assemblyman Paul D. Moriarty, regarding four bills that each would permit, to varying degrees, some manufacturers to sell cars directly to consumers under limited circumstances. The comment concluded that the bills likely would increase competition relative to the existing blanket ban on all other methods of selling cars. The comment further urged a complete repeal of the prohibition on direct sales, which would more fully benefit consumers.

FTC Staff Comment Before the Missouri House of Representatives Regarding House Bill 1124, Which Would Expand the Current Prohibition on Direct-to-Consumer Sales by Manufacturers of Automobiles

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FTC staff submitted a comment, in response to a request from Missouri State Representative Michael J. Colona, regarding Missouri House Bill 1124. The bill would amend the Missouri Motor Vehicle Franchise Act, which prohibited franchisors of new motor vehicles from owning or operating a new motor vehicle dealership in the state. The proposed amendments would expand the scope of the existing restrictions on direct sales, and require that all new motor vehicles in Missouri be sold through independent dealers. The staff comment noted that the current law likely harmed both competition and consumers and the proposed amendments would amplify such adverse effects and discourage innovation. Furthermore, the comment encouraged Missouri to consider abandoning existing law and to permit manufacturers and consumers to reengage the normal competitive process that prevails in most other industries.

FTC Staff Comment Before the Missouri House of Representatives Regarding Missouri House Bills 1481 and 1491

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Staff submitted a comment, in response to a request by Representative Jeanne Kirkton of the Missouri House of Representatives, regarding Missouri House Bills 1481 and 1491. HB 1491 would allow APRNs to assess and diagnose patients and order diagnostic and therapeutic tests and procedures, without a collaborative practice arrangement with a particular physician as required under existing Missouri law. HB 1481 would allow physicians and APRNs to collaborate electronically, replacing a law requiring their offices to be physically nearby. The staff comment stated that the bills would curtail costly barriers to competition that may deter procompetitive innovation in health care delivery. The comment referenced staff’s March 2014 policy paper, Policy Perspectives: Competition and the Regulation of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, for support.

FTC Staff Comment to the Honorable Brendan Reilly Concerning Chicago Proposed Ordinance O2014-1367 Regarding Transportation Network Providers

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FTC staff submitted a comment, in response to a request from Alderman Brendan Reilly of the Chicago City Council, regarding a proposed ordinance that would provide for the licensing and operation of transportation network providers (TNPs), particularly software applications that enable consumers to arrange for transportation services via personal vehicles. The comment stated that, if regulation of TNP services are warranted, regulation should focus primarily on ensuring the safety of customers and drivers and other consumer protection issues. The comment noted that some provisions may unnecessarily impede competition, and recommended that the City Council carefully consider the justification for and effects of such provisions. The comment also recommended that the city should more clearly allow for flexibility and experimentation in pricing.

FTC Staff Comment Before the Illinois State Senate Regarding Senate Bill 2629, Which Would Repeal Certain Provisions of the Illinois Vehicle Code That Currently Prohibit the Sale or Long-Term Lease of New or Used Automobiles on Sunday in Illinois

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FTC staff submitted a comment, in response to a request from Illinois State Senator James Oberweis, regarding the competitive impact of repealing the state’s prohibition on the sale or long-term lease of vehicles on Sundays. The staff comment stated that repealing the mandatory Sunday closing provisions of the Illinois Vehicle Code likely would enhance competition and benefit consumers. The comment observed that existing law eliminated the possibility of competition among auto dealers to determine the Sunday hours of operation that would be most responsive to consumer preferences and most beneficial to consumers. The comment further noted that the probable effects of the mandatory Sunday closing laws extend beyond vehicle sales and long-term leasing, because auto dealers also provide repair services and sell replacement parts.

Federal Trade Commission Staff Comment To the Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services Regarding the Proposed Rule Entitled "Contract Year 2015 Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage and the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Programs"

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Staff submitted a comment to CMS, in response to a request for public comments, regarding proposed changes in contracting for Medicare Part D. The comment recommended that CMS reconsider a proposal to implement an “any willing pharmacy” provision, and further examine whether such provisions are likely to benefit Part D beneficiaries and the Part D program. The comment noted that health plans’ ability to construct networks that include some, but not all, providers can be an important tool to enhance competition and lower costs in markets for health care goods and services.

FTC Staff Comment Before the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities Regarding Its Investigation of Time-Varying Retail Rates for Electric Power

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DPU 14-04

FTC staff submitted a comment in response to a request by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) for comments on its investigation of dynamic pricing for residential electricity customers. The staff comment articulated the potential benefits of dynamic pricing and identified fundamental difficulties in reconciling the “basic” rate-regulated service in Massachusetts with rapid innovations in services and equipment – such as “smart” appliances and electric cars – which enable customers to respond to incentives to reduce electricity consumption during peak demand. The comment recommended that DPU adopt a peak-time rebate plan similar to that adopted by Baltimore Gas & Electric (BG&E), once appropriate electric meters and associated consumer education and consumer protection programs are in place.

Policy Perspectives: Competition and the Regulation of Advanced Practice Nurses

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FTC staff has issued a policy paper suggesting that state legislators should be cautious when evaluating proposals to limit the scope of practice of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs). By limiting the range of services APRNs may provide and the extent to which they can practice independently, such proposals may reduce competition that benefits consumers, the paper states. The policy paper notes the potential benefits of improved competition in the provision of primary health care services. Staff cites research suggesting that APRNs provide safe and effective care within the scope of their training, certification, and licensure. In addition, health policy experts have warned of significant shortages of primary care practitioners across the United States, and they have suggested that APRNs might help to alleviate health care access problems if undue regulatory burdens were reduced. Moreover, effective collaboration among health care providers, including team-based care, does not always require physician supervision of APRNs.

FTC Staff Comment Before NACHA - The Electronic Payments Association, Regarding Proposed Revisions To the NACHA Operating Rules Described in the Request For Comment - ACH Network Risk and Enforcement Topics

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FTC staff filed a comment supporting NACHA’s proposal to strengthen its rules to monitor bank debit transactions conducted through the Automated Clearinghouse (ACH) Network, including those that have been most closely associated with consumer fraud. The comment also urged NACHA to make clear that its thresholds do not represent an acceptable level for returns, but rather are a signal that enhanced scrutiny of a merchant’s business is warranted.

FTC Staff Comment Before the Massachusetts House of Representatives Regarding House Bill 2009 (H.2009) Concerning Supervisory Requirements for Nurse Practitioners and Nurse Anesthetists

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Staff submitted a comment, in response to a request by Massachusetts State Representative Kay Khan, regarding a bill that would eliminate certain supervision requirements for nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists. Staff concluded that these changes likely would benefit competition and consumers in Massachusetts. The comment further encouraged the Massachusetts legislature to consider adopting provisions that would permit APRNs to deliver the full range of health care services they are trained and certified to provide.

FTC Staff Reply Comment Before the District of Columbia Public Service Commission Concerning a Proposed Program for Dynamic (Variable) Pricing of Electricity for Residential Customers, Formal Case Nos. 1086 and 1109

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FTC staff submitted a comment in response to the District of Columbia Public Service Commission’s (DC PSC) request for comments on Potomac Electric Power Company’s (Pepco’s) proposed dynamic pricing program for residential customers. The comment encouraged DC PSC to adopt the proposal as a constructive initial step toward improving the efficiency of the electric system in a way that can benefit many customers, but also leave the existing price structure in place for customers who do not (or cannot) respond to the efficiency incentives. It also recommended that DC PSC periodically review the effects of the proposed approach, with a focus on the accuracy of the price signals being conveyed, consumer participation in and satisfaction with the program, and methods to enhance consumer participation and satisfaction. The comment further recommended that DC PSC ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place with respect to the personal information that smart meters generate about customers and ensure that entities that receive such personal information protect it appropriately.

FTC Staff Comment Before the Commission on Dental Accreditation Concerning Proposed Accreditation Standards for Dental Therapy Education Programs

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FTC staff filed an advocacy comment with the American Dental Association’s Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) regarding proposed accreditation standards for education programs for dental therapists. The comment praised CODA’s proposed accreditation standards for helping to facilitate the development of a nationwide dental therapy profession, but also recommended that CODA omit unnecessary language on supervision and scope of practice, which could constrain the discretion of states to determine dental therapists’ scope of practice and possibly deter innovation in dental care education.

FTC Staff Comment Before the Public Service Commission of the State of Delaware Concerning its Proposal to Revised Its Rules for Certification and Regulation of Electric Suppliers

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FTC staff submitted a comment before the Public Service Commission (PSC) of the State of Delaware, in response to a request for comments on a proposal to revise its rules for certifying and regulating electricity suppliers. The staff comment noted the potential benefits of dynamic pricing, and encouraged the PSC to consider the potential costs associated with a proposal to require electricity suppliers to give customers at least five days’ advance notice of price changes. The comment identified alternatives to a five-day notice period that would provide consumers with the benefits of dynamic pricing via devices such as “smart meters” while assuring that consumers have accurate and timely electricity price information. The comment recommended that, if the PSC chooses to implement such alternatives, it could also require special prominence for disclosures pertaining to price variability and early termination charges in residential retail electricity sales contracts involving variable rates.