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Consumer Update: August 2021

A newsletter from the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. Read the letter from the Undersecretary, Consumer Briefs, and other agency features.

Table of Contents

Consumer Update

Letter from the Undersecretary

Dear Massachusetts Consumer, 

Building a good team is the foundation of every successful leader. Governor Charlie Baker said as he delivered his 2017 State of the State address, "Success is measured by what we accomplish together.” I sincerely believe in this quote, and it rings true in so many aspects of our lives—athletics, education, community, and business. In this month’s update we celebrate teamwork and commitment to public service.

Two of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation's (OCABR) commissioners were recently selected to chair national and international committees. The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) appointed Commissioner Karen Charles Peterson of the Department of Telecommunications and Cable (DTC) chair of the North American Numbering Council (NANC).  

Commissioner Gary Anderson of the Division of Insurance (DOI) was named chair of the International Association of Insurance Supervisors’ (IAIS) Policy Development Committee. Commissioner Anderson is recognized as a global leader on insurance regulation and supervisory measures and is the first Massachusetts Commissioner to hold national leadership positions on international issues.

OCABR's senior leadership and its agency heads mourn the passing of a former insurance commissioner and Superior Court Judge, Nonnie S. Burnes.  The Honorable Nonnie Burnes led the DOI as Commissioner for two years (2007-2009) and current Commissioner Gary Anderson has said, "I hope that all of us will continue to honor Nonnie’s legacy, by doing the work that no one notices but which is critical to fulfill the mission we signed up for." The insurance industry as we know it can largely be attributed to Ms. Burnes’ efforts to increase competition in the Commonwealth, which in turn lowered consumer insurance rates.  Ms. Burnes was an exemplary public servant, also holding positions as the Commissioner of the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission and associate justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court.  We are proud to carry on her ideals by ensuring a fair playing field for Massachusetts businesses.

It is an honor to serve the Commonwealth and the Baker-Polito Administration with such talented individuals.  In today’s ever-changing workplace acknowledging the accomplishments of our colleagues remains paramount. 

OCABR, DTC, DOI, and the Division of Banks are now hiring.  Visit MassCareers to view open positions across the Commonwealth that may fit your qualifications; we are always in search of talented individuals to join the OCABR team.

Please join me in celebrating past and present OCABR staff.  I hope you enjoy this installment of the Consumer Update!  

Sincerely, 
Edward A. Palleschi
Undersecretary, Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation

Division of Professional Licensure Becomes the Division of Occupational Licensure

The Division of Professional Licensure (DPL) has a new name - the Division of Occupational Licensure (DOL). The name change was proposed as part of legislation filed by Governor Baker in May, which sought to transfer 13 health boards from DOL to the Department of Public Health (DPH). The proposal—filed pursuant to Article 87 of the state Constitution, which allows the Governor to reorganize executive branch agencies—took effect on July 18th following a review by the Legislature. DOL and DPH now have 18 months to transition the boards.

The DOL boards that will be transferred to DPH include: Allied Health; Allied Mental Health; Chiropractors; Dietitians and Nutritionists; Dispensing Opticians; Hearing Instrument Specialists; Podiatry; Optometry; Psychologists; Social Workers; Speech Pathology and Audiology; Health Officers; and Sanitarians. This move ensures that these health-related licensing boards are situated within an agency more appropriately aligned with their areas of expertise.  

Following the transition of these boards to DPH, DOL will retain oversight of 16 licensing boards covering a variety of occupations, ranging from real estate brokers to plumbers. DOL will also retain oversight of 10 boards, bureaus or other governing bodies within the Office of Public Safety and Inspections, and the Office of Private Occupational School Education. The name change more accurately reflects the nature of the trades and professions licensed by DOL’s remaining boards.

DTC Commissioner Appointed Chair of FCC Board

Department of Telecommunications and Cable (DTC)  Commissioner Karen Charles Peterson has been selected as chair of the North American Numbering Council (NANC) by Acting Federal Communication Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. The NANC (pronounced “Nancy”) is a federal advisory committee comprising representatives from telecommunications carriers, regulators, cable providers, VoIP providers, industry associations, vendors and consumer advocates.  

The committee is charged with making recommendations in the areas of number portability, number exhaustion, call identification, and Robocalls. One of the NANC’s recent initiatives, in which the Commissioner Charles Peterson was involved, has been a push for a three-digit suicide prevention and mental health number. In December 2019, the FCC approved a plan for this allocating the number 988. This is one of the many positive initiatives the Commissioner will be publicizing in her new role as Chair of the NANC.  

The first virtual meeting of the NANC with Karen Charles Peterson as chair will be held on Oct. 13. 

The FCC’s public notice on the appointment can be found here: https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DA-21-928A1.pdf 

The DTC oversees the telecommunications and cable industries in Massachusetts, working to ensure that residents receive high-quality communications services at just and reasonable rates while promoting sustainable competition in the communications marketplace.

DOI Commissioner Named Chair of International Policy Development Committee

Division of Insurance (DOI) Commissioner Gary Anderson has been appointed as Chair of the International Association of Insurance Supervisors’ (IAIS) Policy Development Committee. In addition to being Chair of the Policy Development Committee, Commissioner Anderson serves as a member of the IAIS Executive Committee.  He is also the Chair of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ (NAIC) International Insurance Relations (G) Committee and the NAIC’s Executive Committee. 

The primary mission of the Division of Insurance (DOI) is to monitor the solvency of its licensees in order to promote a healthy, responsive and willing marketplace for consumers who purchase insurance products. Protection of consumer interests is of prime importance to the Division and is safeguarded by providing accurate and unbiased information so consumers may make informed decisions and by intervening on behalf of consumers who believe they have been victimized by unfair business practices. 

Established in 1994, the IAIS is a voluntary membership organization of insurance supervisors and regulators from more than 200 jurisdictions, constituting 97% of the world’s insurance premiums.  

No Cost Health Plan for Massachusetts Residents on Unemployment

With so much uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, it is important to have access to health care. If you are unemployed and without health insurance, you may qualify for a zero cost health plan. The Massachusetts Health Connector is offering no-or low-cost monthly plans to those who are currently receiving unemployment benefits and/or who otherwise qualify. 

This new benefit is available due to changes in the American Rescue Plan, the COVID-19 stimulus bill passed in March. Learn more about this new benefit.  

You can verify eligibility, apply, or update your Health Connector account, at www.MAhealthconnector.org. When applying, be sure to include information about your unemployment benefits so the Health Connector can check to see if you qualify.  

OCABR Licensee Recognized

Licensee Mary Jane “MJ” Taglieri owner of Options Real Estate Services, LLC of Marblehead was awarded a certificate of acknowledgement by Undersecretary Edward A. Palleschi.

Pictured: Mary Jane “MJ” Taglieri and Undersecretary Edward A. Palleschi

Earlier this month, licensee Mary Jane “MJ” Taglieri owner of Options Real Estate Services, LLC of Marblehead was presented with a certificate of acknowledgement by Undersecretary Edward A. Palleschi.  Licensees are recognized for their contribution to the community and to the consumers of the Commonwealth. Those awarded are considered a shining example of the gold standard we aim for with all of our licensees.

Welcome Northeastern University Students to OCABR

OCABR welcomes new Northeastern University Co-op Student Staff: (Left to right) Nick Santangelo, Gianna Mastrion, Jack Audett, Hannah Rosman, and Greg Willis.

Pictured left to right: Nick Santangelo, Gianna Mastrion, Jack Audett, Hannah Rosman, and Greg Willis.

OCABR is proud to welcome a new class of Northeastern University (NEU) cooperative students to our team. Our new staff members field inquiries through the Consumer Hotline and are active outreach content producers while employed at OCABR. The cooperative education program at NEU provides participants with alternate periods of full-time employment related to their academic majors and interests.

Date published: August 30, 2021
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