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 | Public Health

Calling for Big Action on Antibiotics in the Big Apple | Steve Blackledge

Last week, we were in New York City, where the United Nations General Assembly spent an entire day discussing antibiotic resistance, “the biggest threat to modern medicine.” Experts estimate that more than 700,000 people worldwide die from antibiotic-resistant infections each year, including 23,000 in the United States—a number that could grow to 10 million globally by 2050.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Will Wells Fargo CEO Tell Senate "No Clawbacks" of Exec's Golden Parachute? | Ed Mierzwinski

Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf goes before the Senate Banking Committee Tuesday (9/20) to explain the recent $185 million in combined civil penalties by the CFPB and other regulators over a sales goals incentive scandal that led to employees opening some 2 million fake, secret accounts without the knowledge of customers. How will he respond to the growing public clamor for a clawback of bonuses paid his top retail executive Carrie Tolstedt, whose retirement with a $125 million golden parachute package had been announced earlier this summer? 

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Wall Street Ramps Up Attacks on Wall Street Reform | Ed Mierzwinski

On Friday, the House overwhelmingly approved a Wall Street-driven proposal to weaken oversight of private equity firms, taking a chunk out of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. But wait, there's so much more: On Tuesday the House Financial Services Committee takes up the so-called "Financial Choice Act," which eviscerates most of Dodd-Frank's key reforms, from stripping powers of the Financial Stability Oversight Council to repealing the Volcker Rule, which reins in risky betting practices that use depositors' money. As for the CFPB (which just this week issued its biggest fine to date, $100 million against Wells Fargo Bank for opening hundreds of thousands of fake and secret consumer accounts to meet sales goals), the proposal would defund and defang it and delay or stop its efforts to rein in unfair practices of payday lenders, debt collectors and banks. Many of the Financial Choice Act's provisions also pose threats as budget bill "riders."

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Report | OSPIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection

Predatory Loans & Predatory Loan Complaints

This is the seventh in a series of reports that review complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In this report, we explore consumer complaints about predatory loans, categorized in the database as payday loans, installment loans, and auto title loans.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Good news! CFPB Adding Consumer Ratings of Company Responses to Complaint Database | Ed Mierzwinski

The CFPB is making a good public consumer complaint database better. In 2015, the CFPB added optional consumer narratives, or stories, to its public consumer complaint database, giving other consumers, researchers and even other firms a new way to help study complaint patterns. Now, it will give consumers a chance to “rate the company’s handling of his or her complaint on a one-to-five scale and provide a narrative description in support of the rating.”

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Pages

Media Hit | Transportation

Oregon must relax limits on use of money for road work

This opinion piece by former ODOT Rail Director Claudia Howells examines our broken transportation funding system.

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Media Hit | Budget

John Kroger says agencies must act faster, charge less for public record requests

The most extensive rewrite of Oregon's public records law in decades is in the works, instigated by Attorney General John Kroger. 

 

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Media Hit | Budget, Tax

Oregon, Washington Consider Public Records Overhaul

The Attorneys General of Oregon and Washington are asking state lawmakers to make public documents more accessible.

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Media Hit | Budget, Tax

Shine Light on Tax Breaks

Oregon spends about $350 million per biennium on programs designed to promote economic development, mostly by providing tax breaks to companies that create new jobs.

 

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Media Hit | Budget, Tax

Energy Tax Credits Return, But With New Restrictions

Energy businesses looking for tax credits from the state can start applying Monday. But because of questionable practices in the past, the legislature has placed a $300 million cap on the program.

 

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Pages

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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