OSPIRG Latest Blog Posts

Last week, Metro moved forward a proposal to use taxpayer dollars to partially fund the construction of a Hyatt hotel near the Oregon Convention Center. But is it a good deal for taxpayers?

Governor Kitzhaber’s office just released a report that should serve as a wake-up call for everyone in Oregon who is affected by the rising cost of health insurance.

This report just underlines what we’ve been saying all along—that it’s time to get serious about the cost of health care.

Disappointingly, the U.S. Senate passed a version of the Farm Bill today that continues to send billions of tax dollars to giant agribusinesses. It is now up to our House representatives to ensure that real reform happens.

 | by
Ed Mierzwinski
Senior Director, Federal Consumer Program

Joining agencies that regulate cars, toys and other consumer products, medical devices and airline service, today the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rolls out a searchable online complaint database. The CFPB's new tool, for credit cards to start,  comes in the nick of time to help consumers who the LA Times warns may be tricked into automatically signing up for an over-priced junky Citibank add-on monitoring service.

It's a difficult and confusing time to be a Regence customer. After announcing drastic network cutbacks last month, Regence altered course today in the wake of widespread criticism. But Regence customers can still expect to be paying more and getting less.

We all expect our health insurance to cover our basic health needs, but the significant differences in coverage between plans can be confusing and disempowering for consumers. What services should all health insurance in Oregon cover? Governor Kitzhaber recently convened a panel to answer just this question--and they want to hear from you!

The future of health insurance in Oregon is at stake this summer.  The state is in the middle of an ambitious effort to remake health care that holds the promise of creating a better deal for consumers—if it’s done right.

What if your health insurance company answered to you?  What if it could be held accountable for its policies and fees through member elections? 

 | by
Ed Mierzwinski
Senior Director, Federal Consumer Program

You can pick your friends and even your bank but you are stuck with the credit bureaus.  Over the last twenty years the power of the big credit bureaus to act as gatekeepers to consumer success in life has grown immensely. Credit reports and credit scores generated from them are used to decide whether consumers can get a job, get car insurance, qualify to open a bank account, rent an apartment, use a debit card and, of course, whether they can obtain and how much they will pay for credit. The Columbus (OH) Dispatch has an excellent four-part series explaining that the credit bureaus make mistakes, lots of them, and ruin peoples' lives. There is hope, however, since the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has new tools to rein in the bureaus.

We’ve already documented that at least $1 billion in taxpayer dollars directly subsidize the production of junk food ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated vegetable oils that are the main ingredients in Twinkies, soda and other junk food products. If you spent all that money on Twinkies, it would be enough to buy about 2.8 billion of those golden colored sweets (at the estimated wholesale rate of 36 cents per Twinkie), or about 19 Twinkies per taxpayer. But the fun math doesn’t need to stop there, especially when we’re talking 2.8 billion Twinkies.