By Vicki Needham and Megan Wilson - 02/13/13 12:26 AM EST
Credit unions are pressing lawmakers to provide wide-ranging relief from new regulations they argue are threatening their ability to stay in business.
The National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU) wrote a letter to top Senate and House committee leaders on Tuesday seeking changes to the rules authorized by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.
NAFCU says there are 700 fewer credit unions than there were before Dodd-Frank was enacted in July 2010.
Credit unions have been in talks with congressional leaders and regulators to determine what changes should be made to lift some of the regulatory weight.
NAFCU made specific recommendations in the letter to congressional leaders, including providing the National Credit Union Administration with the authority to delay the implementation of rules from the Consumer Financial Protection Board so that they can be tailored to credit unions.
The group again urged lawmakers to raise the cap on member business loans to 27.5 percent of total assets, a long-standing goal that would increase the amount of lending in which credit unions can engage.
NAFCU said red tape is also hurting its members, and urged Congress to scrap requirements for redundant privacy notices on annual statements. Credit unions need greater authority and flexibility in how they invest and establish national standards for the safekeeping of all financial information, NAFCU said.
In the case of a data breach, credit unions want to hold merchants responsible, especially when it’s due to their own negligence, NAFCU said.
VETERANS AFFAIRS. The Veterans Affairs Department has released a proposal to expand VA-based health coverage to allow the department to partner with state and Medicare-based services.
The 25-page plan, released in Wednesday’s Federal Register, specifically aims to make “extended care services” easier for veterans to obtain. Those services have typically included nursing home and hospice care, but the VA wants to also include evaluations for at-home care from providers not contracted with the department.
The VA would be allowed to “use Medicare or state procedures to enter into provider agreements to obtain extended care services from non-VA providers,” according to the document.
That would add new care options for disabled veterans, which has been a goal of Congress. A Senate committee has urged the department to expand services by “contracting with small community-based providers” that often are not able to partner with the VA due to the extensive federal paperwork required. The rulemaking would remove those barriers for smaller providers.
Extended care would be defined as “geriatric evaluation, nursing home care, domiciliary services, adult day health care, non-institutional palliative care, non-institutional hospice care and home health care” in these regulations, the department says.
Comments are due to the Veterans Affairs Department by March 13.
• The Consumer Product Safety Commission is proposing safety standards for infant “bedside sleepers” that attach to an adult bed and are intended for babies under the age of about 5 months. The agency has received 40 complaints over the last decade, including reports of four fatalities. Though the models that caused the infant deaths have been recalled, the agency seeks to make “voluntary” standards a requirement for manufacturers. Comments on the proposal are due by Feb. 25.
• The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s “ability to pay” standards under the Truth in Lending Act have received 23 comments since being posted on Jan. 30, all of which have been made public. Most of the comments are from small banks and are critical of the regulations. Comments are due by Feb. 25.