Post the Price, Please

OSPIRG is working to make sure consumers get to see health care prices up front.

SECRET PRICES CONTRIBUTE TO HIGH COSTS

 Recent studies show that one third of every dollar we spend on health care is wasted on something that doesn’t improve our health.[1] One reason why is that hospitals get to keep their prices a secret. As a result, medical prices are often hidden from patients, and many contain extra charges and surprising fees. Take a look at some of these examples:

IT’S TIME FOR UP FRONT PRICES

We can bring down the cost of care by getting prices up front. To that end, OSPIRG urges Oregon policymakers to take action to require hospitals to post their prices and to give patients the price of a recommended procedure in real time. It's common sense, but it will likely take big public support to overcome industry lobbyists.


 
[1] Institute of Medicine at the National Academies, Sept 2012, "Best Care at Lower Cost: The Path to Continuously Learning Health Care in America".
[2] CNN, March 2010, "Prescription for Waste" 
[3] OSPIRG blog, October 2013, "Thousand Dollar Ointment".
[4] Medicare Provider Utilization and Payment Data

Issue updates

News Release | U.S. PIRG | COVID-19

Statement: COVID-19 deaths reach another grim milestone: 400,000

The number of U.S. deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic surpassed 400,000 on Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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PFAS Free & I’m Lovin’ It | Danielle Melgar

McDonald’s just committed to phasing out PFAS-treated food packaging from its restaurants globally by 2025. Other restaurants, like Burger King and Wendy’s, should follow its lead.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

Statement: USPIRG applauds Biden nominees Chopra to head CFPB and Gensler to chair SEC

President-elect Joe Biden announced Monday that he intends to nominate Rohit Chopra as Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) director and Gary Gensler as chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Financial Reform

Historic legislation to prevent predatory loans passes Illinois General Assembly

Illiinois PIRG applauds passage of predatory lending reform capping usury ceiling at 36% APR. Measure sent to governor. Illinois will become the 18th state, along with the District of Columbia, that effectively bans payday loans.

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Blog Post | Health Care

5 Things Learned from the Oregon Prescription Drug Transparency Program in 2020 | Maribeth Guarino

 

In 2018, OSPIRG helped pass a prescription drug price transparency program in order to better understand why prescriptions cost so much and to protect consumers from unexpected price increases. Now in its second year, the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services released the results from 2020 reporting. Here are some key takeaways:

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Financial Reform

Historic legislation to prevent predatory loans passes Illinois General Assembly

Illiinois PIRG applauds passage of predatory lending reform capping usury ceiling at 36% APR. Measure sent to governor. Illinois will become the 18th state, along with the District of Columbia, that effectively bans payday loans.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

McDonald’s commits to eliminating toxic ‘forever chemicals’ in food packaging globally

McDonald’s announced a commitment to eliminate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in food packaging used in its restaurants by 2025. PFAS are linked to kidney and liver problems, high cholesterol, reduced immune system function, and cancer.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG

Looking ahead: PIRG’s 2021 federal and state priorities

The new year is just around the corner. In 2021, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) and the state PIRGs will work to improve our health, safety and well-being by bringing Americans together to advocate for new laws and other positive changes

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News Release | U.S. PIRG

Government funding bill coverage: Resources and interview opportunities

A new bill that would fund the government through September 2021 and provide accompanying COVID-19 relief is awaiting President Donald Trump’s signature. While direct disbursements to Americans, many of whom are struggling with medical, utility and rent or mortgage payments as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, have taken center stage, numerous other components of the budget bill will play a starring role for a long time to come. Many of the bill’s provisions will fund -- at varying levels -- key public health, environmental and consumer protection initiatives. The nonprofits U.S. PIRG and Environment America and their state affiliates have been leading voices on -- and drivers of -- policy in these areas for decades. As you continue your coverage of the varied aspects of the 5,600-page legislation, please consider contacting our experts for interviews or background information. Here are the experts available to interview on the these topics, either over the phone or via Zoom/Skype.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG

Year in review: public health, voters’ rights and consumer protection wins in 2020

Between a global pandemic, raging wildfires and severe hurricanes, 2020 has been a chaotic and difficult year. Hundreds of thousands of Americans lost their lives and millions took ill. But we persevered, as our community members, friends and family made sacrifices, both large and small. Through it all, U.S. PIRG has advocated on behalf of the public interest.

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Result | Public Health

Convincing McDonald’s and Subway to protect public health

In 2015, bolstered by the support of more than 100,000 members and supporters, we convinced both McDonald’s and Subway to take action to protect public health. In March, just two days after we delivered more than 30,000 petitions to McDonald’s headquarters, the company announced that they would stop serving chicken raised on medically-important antibiotics. And in October, after more than 100,000 called on the chain to take action, Subway announced a similar policy for all the meat they serve.

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Result | Higher Ed

Protecting students from unfair bank fees

We helped win protections for students from unfair fees associated with campus bank accounts. The new rules, released by the U.S. Department of Education, ban some of the worst and most predatory fees that students encounter from banks.

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Result | Tax

More Transparency for Economic Development Subsidies

After an outcry from the public, Governor Kitzhaber’s administration brought more transparency to economic development subsidies—giving Oregon taxpayers more tools to be able to track their return on investment through the Oregon Transparency Website. 

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Result | Health Care

Kitzhaber Administration takes action on health care costs

At the direction of Gov. Kitzhaber, the Oregon Health Policy Board has adopted an OSPIRG-backed proposal to take steps toward cutting the waste out of our health care system, estimated to make up as much as 1/3 of every dollar we spend on care.

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Result | Health Care

Governor Kitzhaber To Pursue Strengthened Scrutiny for Health Insurance Rates

Following an OSPIRG Foundation report recommending changes to Oregon's health insurance rate review process to make it more effective, Governor Kitzhaber has announced that his administration will take the next steps.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Consumer Tips, Public Health

Food Recall Failure

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 48 million Americans contract a food borne illness yearly with 128,000 people hospitalized and 3,000 dead as a result of these illnesses. 

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Report | OSPIRG

2020 Legislative Agenda

OSPIRG's mission is to deliver persistent, results-oriented public interest activism that protects consumers, encourages a fair, sustainable economy, protects public health and fosters responsive, democratic government.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Consumer Tips, Health Care

The Real Price of Medication

People living in the United States have access to some of the best medical care in the world, from life-saving drugs to cutting-edge surgical techniques. But our system is deeply flawed, with spiraling costs forcing many Americans to spend more on care and often receiving poor quality care for all the extra money spent.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Budget, Tax

Following the Money 2019

Citizens’ ability to understand how their tax dollars are spent is fundamental to democracy. Budget and spending transparency holds government officials accountable for making smart decisions, checks corruption, and provides citizens an opportunity to affect how government dollars are spent.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Consumer Tips

Trouble in Toyland 2019

Millions of parents, grandparents, and caregivers are preparing to buy toys for the loved ones in their lives. Luckily, these toys are safer than ever thanks to years of progress driven by consumer non-profits, public health organizations, elected officials, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

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Blog Post

Landmark consumer victory protects consumers from surprise billing | Patricia Kelmar

There is no worse feeling than getting a large unexpected bill in the mail. And in the case of a surprise medical bill, it usually comes at the worst time - when you are home recovering from an illness or injury. But most of those bills will soon be a thing of the past.

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Blog Post | Solid Waste

Right to Repair 2020 wrap-up: Notable wins as campaign advances | Nathan Proctor

A look at 2020 highlights and milestones for the campaign to fix our stuff, and a look ahead to 2021

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips, COVID-19

Online shopping tips: Don't let last-minute desperation make you careless | Jacob van Cleef

Here's some advice to help keep your information and wallet safe

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips

Gift Guide: How to avoid toxics in beauty products | Gina Werdel

Gifting beauty products to family and friends this holiday season? Here's a guide to purchasing safer beauty products.

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips

Good news for consumers: A big database of consumer complaints will stay public

In a win for consumer protection and transparency in the marketplace, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will keep its complaint database public.

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Blog Post | Public Health, Antibiotics

These lawmakers are urging the EPA to protect our life-saving medicines

U.S. lawmakers have sent a blunt message to the Trump Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Spraying antibiotics on citrus will "escalate [the] antibiotic resistance crisis."

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Blog Post

House Oversight Committee finds Juul targeting kids

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi got right to the point as he opened a House committee's first hearing on the role of Juul in the teen vaping epidemic.

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Blog Post | Antibiotics

Taco Bell the latest chain to reduce antibiotics in its meat supply

You might know Taco Bell for silly ads asking you to "think outside the bun." But the company is getting serious about at least one thing: reducing the overuse of antibiotics.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Amazon: Take responsibility for unsafe products

Most of us expect that the products we buy in stores are safe to use. It turns out that's not always the case with Amazon. 

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News Release | OSPIRG

With home electronics in heavy use during the ongoing pandemic, a new analysis by OSPIRG estimates that Oregon households could save $330 per year by repairing their electronics on their own or going to independent repair shops, according to the report’s analysis. This adds up to a total savings of $544 million across the state. This number may seem staggering, but so is how much we spend on new devices. As of 2019, American households spend approximately $1,480 annually purchasing new electronic products.

Blog Post

Plastic is a problem not just for our environment, but also for our health. Chemicals used to make plastics anti-microbial, flame retardant, and more, can be toxic.

News Release | US PIRG

A new analysis by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group found that 8 percent of nursing homes nationwide had a critical shortage of surgical-grade N95 masks, as of Dec. 27. And 4 to 6 percent of homes reported shortages in at least one other category of PPE.

Blog Post

Shortages improved during the fall but worsened in December

News Release | U.S. PIRG

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Kathy Kraninger submitted her resignation Wednesday soon after the inauguration of new President Joe Biden. Resignation opens seat for President Biden’s new nominee Rohit Chopra.

Safe Energy

Oregon's last coal plant closes 20 years ahead of deadline

In a victory for Oregon's air quality, Portland General Electric (PGE) has permanently closed its Boardman coal-fired power plant, 20 years ahead of the deadline mandated by a 2010 legal agreement to settle charges that the plant was violating the federal Clean Air Act. PGE is currently developing hydro, solar and wind projects to replace the power from the plant.

 

COVID-19

Nursing Home Safety During COVID: PPE Shortages

A report by U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group found that nationally, the number of nursing homes out of PPE actually tripled between July and August.

 

Consumer Protection

Auto Loan Complaints Rise

A review of complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Consumer Complaint Database reveals a sharp spike in consumer complaints about auto purchasing, leasing and finance since the beginning of the pandemic.

 

Public Health

Responding to the COVID crisis

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, now more than ever, we need to work together to ensure that our government has a coordinated, strategic response to safeguard the public’s health, protect consumers from emerging dangers and ensure people can still participate fully in our democracy.

 
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