On May, 12, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) introduced the Bereaved Consumer’s Bill of Rights Act of 2016 (H.R. 5212), which would direct the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to expand the Funeral Rule by adopting rules to regulate all cemeteries, crematories and third-party sellers of funeral and burial services and merchandise to the public. Today, NFDA President Bob Arrington testified in opposition to H.R. 5212 before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce: Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade, which has oversight of this bill.
Next year, the FTC is scheduled to begin a comprehensive review of the Funeral Rule; this is something that happens on a regular basis. NFDA feels this review offers a stronger alternative to H.R. 5212, which would expand a rule that is already flawed.
Enforcement is a key example of the Funeral Rule’s flaws. NFDA has long been opposed to the way the FTC enforces the Funeral Rule. Instead of using consumer complaints, the FTC only relies on undercover shoppers who apply the rule subjectively. This is unreasonable for the good funeral directors who get caught by a shopper who is inconsistent in the way the Funeral Rule is applied. It’s also bad for consumers because the FTC doesn’t step in when there is a real concern about an interaction they may have had with a funeral director.
Additionally, while the Funeral Rule offers important protections to consumers, it is by no means a one-stop-shop for protecting consumers. State laws and regulations of funeral homes, cemeteries and crematories fill the void left by the Funeral Rule. NFDA works diligently with its state association partners to improve state laws, ensuring they reflect the evolving needs of consumers and the funeral professionals who serve them.
During the FTC review everyone who has concerns about Funeral Rule will be able to make their voice heard; NFDA is gearing up to be a major player during the review. NFDA believes the Funeral Rule needs to be redesigned and redrafted to address the realities of the funeral market in 2016 which is infinitely different from the 1970s when it was written by FTC attorneys. It would be better to do this through a comprehensive rulemaking process where all interested parties can be heard rather than a rush job under a Congressional mandate.
NFDA is confident the FTC review will result in positive changes for both consumers and funeral service.
The May 26 issue (available now) of the Memorial Business Journal (login required) has complete details.