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

Blog Post | COVID-19

Superspreading events pose outsized risk of COVID-19 transmission | Abe Scarr

Public health experts are starting to draw actionable lessons about the nature of how COVID-19 spreads. In addition to maintaining best practices –physical distancing, mask wearing and hand washing – it’s best to avoid extended, crowded indoor gatherings.

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Blog Post | COVID-19

I’m reading the CFPB’s mail about the pandemic’s effect on family finances | Ed Mierzwinski

I’ve been reading the CFPB’s mail. It’s okay, you can too. It’s public. Not surprisingly, the latest CFPB consumer complaints paint a grim picture of the pandemic’s effect on family finances. I ask: Why isn’t the CFPB doing more to help struggling consumers?

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Blog Post | COVID-19

New data: Consumers are already struggling with COVID-related mortgage servicing problems. | Gideon Weissman

Mortgage servicers failed Americans during the last recession. And if early data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is any indication, history may well be on its way to repeating.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Tips, COVID-19

Consumer advice: Ask for help with your bills before an emergency

This coming Monday, June 1, will mark the third full month that bills are due since COVID-19 was declared a national state of emergency in March. To help Americans manage their finances, U.S. PIRG Education Fund has published an updated guide with tips on what to do about paying bills during the crisis.

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

Consumer, Banking Groups Applaud Bill to Exempt Economic Impact Payments from Garnishment

U.S. PIRG has joined leading consumer and banking organizations to applaud a bi-partisan Senate bill to broaden protections in the recent COVID-19 stimulus package. Under the CARES Act, Congress exempted Economic Impact Payments from offset for debts owed to federal and state agencies, except in the case of child support, but did not exempt them from court-ordered garnishment to pay creditors. 

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News Release | OSPIRG | Democracy

OSPIRG Statement on Multnomah County v Mehrwein

 

The Oregon Supreme Court has affirmed the constitutionality of campaign contribution limits in Oregon. The ruling that the court issued Thursday in Multnomah County v Mehrwein overturned previous precedent from the 1997 decision Vanetta v Keisling. 

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News Release | COVID-19

STATEMENT: After public outcry, ventilator repair restrictions loosen

U.S. PIRG has been calling on manufacturers of ventilators to release all the service information needed for biomedical technicians to repair that equipment. Increasingly, those companies are posting the requested information online. 

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | COVID-19, Consumer Protection

Statement: SBA data breach puts business owners at risk of ID theft and other fraud

The Small Business Administration (SBA) announced Tuesday that the personal information of nearly 8,000 business owners applying for federal disaster loans had been exposed. The breach affects applicants to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (EIDL), and may have included names, Social Security numbers, addresses, birth dates, email addresses, phone numbers, citizenship statuses and insurance information.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG and Environment America

EPA decision to undercut mercury pollution standards puts our health at risk

After months of protest, even from members of the industries the federal Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) keeps in check, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized an action that defangs the regulations.

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

U.S. PIRG calls on Congress to fund the U.S. Postal Service

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on many sectors of our society, including the United States Postal Service (USPS). With a significant decline in mail volume due to the virus, the agency is in danger of insolvency. U.S. PIRG is calling on Congress to act immediately to keep the postal service open and serving the American public. Specifically, it must include the financial relief USPS needs as part of the fourth COVID-19 relief package.

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Result | Health Care

Young People Now Covered

This year, the federal health care reforms that OSPIRG worked to win have started to pay off for young people. In the past, teens saw their premiums soar or were denied coverage when they turned 19, even if they’d been insured their whole lives. Now, they can remain on their parents’ plans until age 26. 

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Plan to cut health care waste moves ahead in Oregon

Members of the Oregon Health Policy Board approved a plan to cut health care administrative waste and save Oregonians $100 million per year in the process.

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Wasteful student lender subsidies cut. Winner: students.

Congress finally ended wasteful subsidies to student lenders that diverted billions of dollars annually away from helping more students go to college.

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Result | Democracy

Oregon Voter Registration enters the 21st Century

Voter Registration enters the 21st Century in Oregon with Governor Kulongoski's signing of the Online Voter Registration Act today.

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Result | Budget, Democracy, Tax

Google Government Coming to Oregon

The Oregon Legislature gave final approval to HB 2500 this morning, which sets up a one-stop website for taxpayer spending.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

A Better Health Insurance Market For Oregon

New report from OSPIRG Foundation and Frontier Group details rising health care costs and federal disruptions to the individual insurance market; explores policy options to stabilize prices and expand consumer choice.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Tax

A Simple Fix for a $17 Billion Loophole

Every year, corporations use complicated schemes to shift U.S. earnings to subsidiaries in offshore tax havens—countries with minimal or no taxes—in order to reduce their state and federal income tax liability by billions of dollars.

Meanwhile, smaller, wholly-domestic U.S. businesses cannot game the system in the same way. The result is that large multinational businesses compete on an uneven playing field, avoiding taxes that their small competitors must pay. Innovation in the marketplace is replaced by innovation in the tax code.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

A Citizen's Guide to Reducing Energy Waste

The future is here—but we’re living in the past.

Clean energy from the sun and wind can provide for our energy needs without the global consequences of pollution, yet we’re still producing and consuming virtually all of our energy in ways that do lasting damage to our environment, our health and our climate. To make matters worse, much of the dirty energy we produce goes to waste.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation

Safer School Supplies Shopping Guide

With this Safer School Supplies: Shopping Guide, parents, teachers, and students can make more informed decisions while shopping for school supplies this Back to School season. We want to give parents and teachers the option to choose school supplies that do not contain toxic chemicals. This Shopping Guide should serve as a handy tool for finding products free of several types of toxic chemicals.

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Health Care

OSPIRG FOUNDATION COMMENTS ON THE PROVIDENCE HEALTH PLAN PROPOSAL FOR INDIVIDUAL HEALTH RATES EFFECTIVE JANUARY 2019

Providence Health Plan’s 91,425 members with individual health insurance plans will see rate hikes of 13.6% on average, and as high as 24.1%, if the premium increase proposed by Providence goes forward. 

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Blog Post | COVID-19

Factory farms: A pandemic in the making. | Matt Wellington

The emergence and spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic is a symptom of how we raise food animals across the world. 

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Consumer Groups & Bank Associations Urge Congress To Protect COVID19 Checks From Garnishment | Ed Mierzwinski

Yesterday, U.S. PIRG joined leading consumer groups and bank trade associations in a joint letter urging Congress at the soonest possible opportunity to clarify that economic impact payments responding to this public health emergency are exempt from otherwise legally binding garnishment orders.

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips, COVID-19, Public Health

COVID-19 and the question of priorities | Douglas H. Phelps

To keep the sickest people alive during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we need ventilators. We don’t have them — and that says something about our priorities.

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Blog Post | COVID-19

Comprehensive Testing Needed Now! | Laura Deehan

We are just weeks away from the United States’ expected COVID-19 peak, and as scores of state and local officials are making clear, rather than rollbacks, we need broader testing capacity with the federal government leading the effort. 

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Cordray To "Oblivious" CFPB: "Shield" Families From Economic Harms | Ed Mierzwinski

Rich Cordray, the first director of the CFPB and author of a new book on his six years at its helm, has issued a powerful memo to its current director, Kathy Kraninger, urging her to stop "relaxing" duties on financial firms and to "lose no further time" in "shield[ing] households and families" from the "economic harms" they face as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Blog Post | Consumer Tips

Here's why we're not satisfied that Equifax agreed to pay $650 million for its big data breach

Equifax has agreed to pay $650 million two years after its data breach put 147 million people at risk. It's not enough.

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Blog Post | Solid Waste

Nathan Proctor advocates for our right to repair at the FTC’s 'Nixing the Fix' workshop

We've been telling everybody who will listen that the companies that make electronics and other products should make it easier to repair your stuff. In July, we got to tell the Federal Trade Commission...

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Blog Post | Public Health

Public education, member action strengthen call to ban Roundup

The more we educate the public about Monsanto's weedkiller, Roundup, the more support we find for banning the product—the residue of which can be found practically everywhere, from breakfast cereal to ice cream.

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Blog Post

Report reveals 9 highway boondoggle projects slated to cost $25 billion

Highway expansion projects too often come with big price tags and paltry benefits. Yet at least nine new expansions are planned across the country, including one in Oregon.

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Blog Post

Drugmakers would have to give notice before hiking prescription prices under bill passed by Oregon Senate

With 1 in 5 consumers reporting not purchasing medicines because of the price and 1 in 10 skipping or splitting doses against doctor's orders, state lawmakers are taking notice.

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Pages

News Release | OSPIRG

 

With the number of COVID-19 cases continuing to rise nationally,  OSPIRG released its new Weekly Trends & Risk Assessment Report, showing Oregon is making progress towards containing COVID-19, but the virus is still spreading widely enough to merit caution.This is the third week OSPIRG has provided a snapshot of Oregon’s coronavirus efforts. Last week, Oregon received a “trending poorly” grade. 

Blog Post

U.S. PIRG is calling on municipal, state and federal policymakers to mandate face masks in all indoor public spaces, as well as in outdoor locations where it’s hard for people to socially distance six feet apart.

News Release | OSPIRG Foundation

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is putting incredible stress on the U.S. medical system, including the equipment that is essential to diagnose and treat patients, such as ventilators. As that equipment is pressed into round-the-clock use, biomedical repair technicians face increasing pressure to maintain and repair all that equipment. However, in too many cases, manufacturers limit access to the essential tools and information these repair experts need. A new report by the OSPIRG Foundation, Hospital Repair Restrictions, details the challenges that medical professionals face as a result of device manufacturers setting up barriers to repair, and outlines steps to take to help hospitals. 

Report | OSPIRG Foundation

COVID-19 is putting incredible stress on the U.S. medical system, including the work of hospital biomedical repair technicians, known as biomeds or BMETs. These technicians are essential; hospitals need working equipment to diagnose and treat patients. But in some cases, manufacturers restrict access to what biomeds need.

Report | OSPIRG

COVID Exit Strategy (www.covidexitstrategy.org), a non-partisan group of public health and crisis experts, has been tracking the progress states have made towards meeting the CDC recommended benchmarks states should reach before reopening their economies. As of June 28th, only three states were meeting these metrics, earning a “Green” rating.  Currently, Oregon is failing half of the benchmarks, and is rated “Red.”

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.

 

Public Health

Oregon pauses reopening as COVID-19 cases surge

Gov. Kate Brown announced that Oregon will wait one more week to reopen after an increase in COVID-19 cases. We commend Gov. Brown for sticking to a plan built on scientific evidence and we continue to support states following the recommendations of health experts to safely reopen.

 

COVID-19

Oregon legislators join national call for an end to coronavirus-related online price gouging

On April 9, 18 Oregon state legislators joined U.S. PIRG Education Fund in sending a letter urging prominent online retailers to prevent price gouging on their platforms. Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, the cost of critical health supplies has spiked dramatically on online platforms, analysis released by OSPIRG Foundation found.

 

Health Care

Oregon drug prices five times higher than in other countries, report finds

A prescription medication in Oregon, on average, costs five times as much as the most expensive international price. OSPIRG is calling on the Department of Consumer and Business Services  to improve transparency by compelling drug manufacturers to publish their profits, among other information.

 
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