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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

As CFPB Advances Consumer Protection, Attacks on CFPB Escalate | Ed Mierzwinski

This week, the CFPB took a major step toward establishing a regulation restricting the use of forced arbitration clauses in consumer financial contracts, which give companies what the CFPB's director said was a "free pass from being held accountable by their customers." Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, powerful bank interests escalated their campaign to defund and defang the bureau, because it works for consumers, not them.

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News Release | OSPIRG Foundation and Citizens for Tax Justice | Tax

Study: 72% of Fortune 500 Companies Used Tax Havens in 2014

Portland, October 6 – Tax loopholes encouraged more than 72 percent of Fortune 500 companies –including Nike based here in Oregon– to maintain subsidiaries in offshore tax havens as of 2014, according to “Offshore Shell Games,” released today by OSPIRG Foundation and Citizens for Tax Justice. Collectively, the companies reported booking nearly $2 trillion offshore for tax purposes, with just 30 companies accounting for 65 percent of the total, or $1.35 trillion.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation and Citizens for Tax Justice | Tax

OFFSHORE SHELL GAMES 2015

U.S.-based multinational corporations are allowed to play by a different set of rules than small and domestic businesses or individuals when it comes to the tax code. Rather than paying their full share, many multinational corporations use accounting tricks to pretend for tax purposes that a substantial portion of their profits are generated in offshore tax havens, countries with minimal or no taxes where a company’s presence may be as little as a mailbox. Multinational corporations’ use of tax havens allows them to avoid an estimated $90 billion in federal income taxes each year.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Threemile Canyon Farms and antibiotics | David Rosenfeld

Gov. Kate Brown recently disclosed that she plans to appoint an officer of Oregon’s largest factory farm – Threemile Canyon Farms – to the state Board of Agriculture. Friends of Family Farmers and a number of other groups are pushing back. OSPIRG doesn't have enough expertise on this matter to have a position, but it is clear that the Board of Agriculture plays an important role in shaping Oregon’s farm policy. This prompted me to go back and review the company's statements against a bill to curtail antibiotics overuse on farm animals. After doing so, I worry about what this appointment signals in terms of the Governor's stance on this critical public health issue.

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News Release | OSPIRG | Consumer Protection

OSPIRG Demands Real Penalties for Volkswagen and Full Rebates for Customers

The consumer group OSPIRG demanded today that Volkswagen be held fully accountable for its “defeat device” scheme to trick EPA pollution tests. The group also called for full rebates to the nearly 500,000 customers deceived into joining the scheme by VW’s false promises of “clean” diesel cars.

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Media Hit | Health Care

Regence Reduces Payments to Healthcare Professionals

July 26, 2012 -- Physicians and other healthcare professionals are being hit with a rate reduction from Regence BlueCross BlueShield on October 1, while the insurer is asking the Insurance Division to approve a 9.6 percent increase for roughly 53,000 people who buy their own coverage. A public hearing on that rate request will be held next Monday at 3 p.m. in Salem.

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News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Providence Customers May See Rates Rise As Much As 18.6%

 

More than 12,000 Oregonians with individual health insurance plans will see rate hikes of 15.7% on average, and as high as 18.6%, if the premium rate hike posted today by Providence Health Plans goes forward. Many customers will also see increased out-of-pocket costs.

 

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News Release | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Regence Rate Hike To Reach 16.4% for Some Customers

More than 52,000 Oregonians with individual health insurance plans will see rate hikes of 9.6% on average, and as high as 16.4%, if the premium rate hike posted today by Regence BlueCross BlueShield goes forward. At the same time, customers in lower-deductible plans will face out-of-pocket costs starting at $2,500 before coverage kicks in, and consumers in the Portland metro area may need to change providers.

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Media Hit | Health Care

Portland-area Regence BlueCross BlueShield individual members could see rate hikes as high as 15.3 percent

Individual members of Regence BlueCross BlueShield could see an average 9.6-percent rate increase statewide, requested by the insurer months after announcing network changes to cut costs.

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News Release | OSPIRG | Health Care

Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act

Today’s decision is good news for consumers in Oregon. Now it’s time for Oregon leaders to move forward on the next steps, and make sure health reform delivers lower costs and better quality coverage.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Transportation

Do Roads Pay for Themselves?

Disproves the common misperception that road building is paid for by user fees, otherwise known as the federal gas tax.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Comments on United HealthCare's Proposed Rate Hike

In this rate filing, United HealthCare does not appear to justify the proposed 16.8% increase.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Transportation

A Track Record of Success

As America moves toward construction of new high-speed rail networks in regions throughout the country, we have much to learn from experiences abroad. High-speed rail lines have operated for more than 45 years in Japan and for three decades in Europe, providing a wealth of information about what the United States can expect from high-speed rail and how we can receive the greatest possible benefits from our investment.

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Report | OSPIRG | Consumer Protection, Food

Recipe for Disaster

To assess one cost of not strengthening our food safety system, Consumer Federation of America, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and U.S. Public Interest Research Group studied recalls of foods regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from August 1, 2009, to October 2010. That study found that a wide variety of foods were recalled in the 13-month period due to contamination by Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, and other bacteria.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

Delivering on the Promise

The recently passed federal health care reform law will make significant changes in how health insurance and health care work for consumers, businesses, and local and state governments, as well as how insurers and providers operate.  But whether Americans experience improved care, lower costs and greater access depends largely on what happens next.

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Blog Post | Transportation

The Little Train that Could ... and Did | David Rosenfeld

Tony Dutzik from the Frontier Group's latest post about Maine's Downeaster train. Interesting similarities between Maine's situation and Oregon's.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Something's Happening Here; What it Is Is Increasingly Clear | David Rosenfeld

Another incisive post from Tony Dutzik of the Frontier Group on why declining driving numbers are real, despite what some transit opponents claim.

 

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Blog Post | Health Care

Oregon Healthcare Exchange Holds Promise for Consumers | Matt Orchant

Consumers and small businesses may get better healthcare for lower costs if the Oregon Healthcare Exchange meets its potential.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Consumer Watch - Free Tax Prep at Walmart? | Brian Rae

HR Block has teamed up with Wal Mart to offer in store free tax prep, however it is “free” for clients that filed a 1040 EZ, just 16% of their clients. This does not include taxpayers with kids, any requesting the earned income tax credit or any non standard deductions. 

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Blog Post | Health Care

Regence Rate Increase Hearing | Matt Orchant

Health insurance premiums are going up again. The latest request for a rate hike came from Regence for their small group plans. The average increase requested over the next year will be 8%, but some businesses will see increases in excess of 15%. At OSPIRG, we’re concerned that Regence has not adequately justified this increase request.

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Priority Action

We're calling on big restaurant chains to stop the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms. Tell KFC to stop serving meat raised on routine antibiotics.

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