Permanent Fix for Medicare Payments to Doctors Moves to Obama

This post was updated April 21, 2015. President Barack Obama signed into law on April 21 a permanent solution to a problem that has plagued the Medicare system for years. Doctors never knew whether the payments they received for treating Medicare beneficiaries would suddenly drop, making it difficult for them to make long-term business plans and causing some to stop taking Medicare patients altogether. Obama once compared the flawed payment formula to a “guillotine” hanging permanently over doctors’ heads. Approving …

Consumer Agency May Clamp Down on Payday Lenders

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is proposing new rules to restrict high-cost payday and car-title loans that often leave borrowers in worse financial shape. The agency can’t do anything about the interest rates charged — that’s up to the states — although it does have the authority to regulate the lenders making these loans. “Too many short-term and longer-term loans are made based on the lender’s ability to collect and not on a borrower’s ability to repay,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray …

AG After You? Don’t Buy This Lie

The latest mask worn by scamming debt collectors is a real slap in the face, given that the con artists pose as the very state agencies that go after them. At least three attorneys general offices (New York, Virginia and Missouri) have recently issued warnings about being spoofed. Impersonating the attorney general or reps of that official, crooks threaten consumers with arrest unless a supposed debt is immediately paid. That’s the same bogus line used in ongoing schemes by impostor collectors …

Few African Americans Take Advantage of Retirement Planning Products

Recent research shows that most African Americans/blacks age 50-plus use financial products, such as checking accounts and savings accounts. But only 1 in 10 use retirement planning products, such as a 401(k) plan or individual retirement account (IRA). Millions of Americans haven’t saved any money for their golden years, and millions of others haven’t saved nearly enough. According to the Federal Reserve, the median balance of retirement accounts totals less than $60,000, and many African Americans/blacks have saved even less. >> AARP …

Banks Ease Terms for Struggling Student Borrowers

Big banks are beginning to cut some slack to distressed student-loan borrowers. Wells Fargo announced a new program this week that will lower the interest rate on loans so payments will be more affordable based on a struggling borrower’s income. The bank will review borrowers’ financial situations to determine whether they qualify for short- or long-term loan modification. >> 8 Hidden College Expenses According to the Wall Street Journal, both borrowers and cosigners will have to show financial hardship to get a modification. Modifications …

Are Lenders Driving Student Loan Borrowers Into Default?

Borrowers struggling to repay private student loans say they have little choice but to default because lenders won’t revise payments to make them affordable, according to a new report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “We are hearing from consumers that they are driven into default because private student loan companies are not providing concrete loan modification options,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement. “Struggling private student loan borrowers are finding themselves out of luck and out of …