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 | Financial Reform

CFPB Taps Former Pentagon Legal Official to Head Office of Servicemember Affairs

We join National Consumer Law Center, Americans for Financial Reform and other leading groups in a release commending the appointment of senior Pentagon official Colonel Paul Kantwill (U.S. Army, Retired) to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Office of Servicemember Affairs. The CFPB plays an important role in protecting servicemembers, veterans and their families from financial predators.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

CFPB Slams Two Credit Bureaus For Deceptive Marketing, Expect Experian Next | Ed Mierzwinski

This week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau nailed two "big 3" credit bureaus --Trans Union and Equifax -- for deceptive marketing of their over-priced, under-performing credit monitoring subscription products.  Combined fines and consumer restitution total $23 million. I predict that the CFPB will also bring a case against the remaining bureau, Experian, and that it will pay much more, because Experian really has led the way in aggressively marketing these tawdry products. They don't prevent identity theft, nor do they always accurately disclose your credit score, at fees of up to $16.95/month or more. Yikes!

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

This New Year, Celebrate the CFPB | Ed Mierzwinski

This month, we published our 8th report based on analyzing consumer complaints collected in the CFPB's Public Consumer Complaint Database. The release of "Big Banks, Big Overdraft Fees" provides a good year-end opportunity to summarize a few of the reasons to be thankful for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which took over in July 2011 as the first federal regulator with just one job: protecting consumers from unfair financial practices. The idea of the CFPB needs no defense, only more defenders.

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Statement on Procter & Gamble’s New Preservative Tracker in Personal Care Products

Personal care product giant Procter & Gamble (P&G) recently unveiled a new preservative tracker, which lets consumers know which preservatives are included in various categories of P&G’s products, such as baby wipes, skin care, and hair care products. Consumers can search the tracker by ingredient or by product type.

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News Release | OSPIRG | Democracy

Portland City Council Votes to Make Government More Accountable to Everyday People

The Portland City Council passed a major reform that will lift up the voices of everyday voters in local government. Open and Accountable Elections will empower candidates to run for office without taking big campaign contributions, instead fueling their campaigns with small donations from local, everyday voters, matched 6-to-1 with designated public funds.

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News Release | OSPIRG | Tax

Transparency bill passes Oregon Senate

Today, the Oregon Senate voted unanimously in support of House Bill 2825, which will improve the transparency of Oregon’s economic development tax incentives.

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News Release | OSPIRG | Transportation

Good news for rail today

U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood announced $2B in high-speed rail grants today, including over $16 million for Oregon and Washington. Today’s announcement is another step towards reducing our dependence on four dollar a gallon gas, giving us better alternatives to being stuck in traffic, and fewer dollars wasted widening highways and adding runways.

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Media Hit | Health Care

How the Oregon House can help our state's small businesses

I own a small business in Sunriver and have driven to Salem many times over the years to provide state officials with a small-business perspective about Oregon's health insurance exchange. Those trips weren't convenient, but I did it because the exchange is so important to small businesses like mine.

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Blog Post

The American Farm Bureau Federation, which represents almost 6 million member families across the United States, voted decisively yesterday to endorse their members’ ability to fix their equipment when it breaks. In doing so, they set clear guidelines on what kind of policy they think will solve the problem.

Blog Post

In support of a report by colleagues from the Norwegian Consumer Council on whether the data sharing and privacy practices of a number of dating and other smartphone apps were in compliance with European privacy rules (GDPR) or the new California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), U.S. PIRG and other leading groups sent joint letters to key policymakers, including the California, Oregon and TexaS Attorneys General, the Federal Trade Commission and all members of the U.S. House and Senate. 

Blog Post

Last week, CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger appointed four lawyers and professors to a "Taskforce on Federal Consumer Law." To my knowledge, none have worked for consumer protection organizations yet all have worked as industry consultants or been aligned with industry views, although all have previous government experience. I am aware of several distinguished professors with CFPB experience who were rejected. Incredibly, the announcement of this better-described "Task Farce" claimed inspiration from a distinguished bi-partisan commission established by the Consumer Credit Protection Act in 1968." 

News Release | U.S. PIRG

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush releases legislation to increase transparency around important product injury and death data. 

News Release | U.S. PIRG

The Food and Drug Administration issued a policy today that would take many flavors of cartridge-based e-cigarettes such as Juul temporarily off the market due to their appeal to kids.

Democracy

A somber anniversary: 10 years after the Citizens United decision

January 15th marked the 10th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, widely blamed for opening the floodgates to special interest spending in our elections. U.S. legislators joined PIRG and other pro-democracy organizations to decry the ongoing harm caused by the ruling—and to highlight the growth of the pro-reform movement. 

 

Consumer Protection

New federal bill will make it easier for consumers to know about unsafe, even deadly products

If you had a product in your home that the government knew could cause injury or death, you'd expect the government to warn you, right? Surprisingly, that's not the case for the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The "Safety Hazard and Recall Efficiency Information Act" seeks to change that.

 

Consumer Protection

The Trump administration's Consumer Bureau just appointed a task "farce" on consumer law

The Trump administration's Consumer Financial Protection Bureau just appointed a new task force on consumer law — but according to senior director of PIRG's federal consumer program, Ed Mierzwinski, this task force isn't set up to be on the side of consumers. "It is a task farce," he said.

 

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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